Monday, September 15, 2008

Moreno Valley: One man's wild ride on cycles of boom and bust

Bob Chiordi at the home he is about to lose in Moreno Valley — his second home loss there because of the city’s cycles of boom and bust. While admitting he doesn’t like having this happen twice, “You have to keep going forward,” he said.
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In the Inland Empire city, Bob Chiordi achieves the American Dream of homeownership -- and loses it -- twice
By Peter H. King, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer September 15, 2008

MORENO VALLEY -- It's an axiom of growth, Southern California-style: Suburbs that arise on the far edges of the metropolis in a boom, more often than not, will recede in a bust. After the down times end, as they always seem to do, the bulldozers and house framers return. And the next cycle begins.

The good people of Moreno Valley know this pattern all too well. Since sprouting out of the desert lands beyond Riverside in the mid-1980s, the city has lurched from outsized boom to neighborhood-gutting recession and back to boom, only to find itself battered yet again by the calamity known as the mortgage crisis.

Bob Chiordi has bobbed through every sea change. A 54-year-old father of two, Chiordi moved here in the '80s, part of a modern-day land rush that for a time would make Moreno Valley the nation's fastest-growing city.

It was a classic suburban trade-off: Chiordi was willing to endure a death-march commute into Long Beach, where he worked as a structural mechanic for McDonnell Douglas, in exchange for an opportunity to own his own house. The American Dream, it's often called -- when it all works out.

Chiordi now toils in the auto service department at Wal-Mart for $10.25 an hour, while scouring the Southland for a job more in line with his background. Moreover, for the second time since moving here, he is about to walk away from his home to foreclosure -- unable to keep up with the payments.

"I don't really like the fact that I lost two houses in my life," he said last week, sitting in the conference room of the Palm Canyon Community Church, where he volunteers as a youth counselor. "But you have to keep going forward."

He told his story in a detached monotone, and at times it seemed he could barely believe what was happening to him. Again.  (Read the rest of the story)
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