tv PBS News Hour PBS September 24, 2015 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening, i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. >> woodruff: on the newshour tonight: tremendous loss of life, on one of the holiest days of the muslim calendar. the latest on the stampede that has killed hundreds, during an annual pilgrimage. >> ifill: also ahead: >> mr. speaker! the pope of the holy see! >> ifill: a papal call to action on immigration and climate before a joint meeting of congress as francis wraps up his trip to the capital, by visiting the city's poor. >> woodruff: plus, making sense of america's uneven housing recovery. how many are still struggling as foreclosures continue. >> this is the story of a crisis that won't quit, and it won't
quit because we're not focused on the difference in how it impacts our lower-income neighbors as opposed to our middle >> ifill: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> bnsf. >> and by the alfred p. sloan foundation. supporting science, technology, and improved economic performance and financial literacy in the 21st century. >> support also comes from carnegie corporation of new york. a foundation created to do what andrew carnegie called "real and
permanent good." celebrating 100 years of philanthropy at carnegie.org. >> and with the ongoing support of these institutions >> this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. >> ifill: tragedy struck the muslim world today, marring the end of the annual pilgrimage to mecca, in saudi arabia. at least 719 people were killed when worshippers panicked and stampeded. more than 860 others were hurt. >> ifill: it was a scene of horror in a place of holiness. cell phone video captured the gruesome aftermath, with bodies littering the streets. saudi officials said the stampede started when two waves of pilgrims collided.
>> ( translated ): the accident, as most know, was a stampede caused by overcrowding and also caused by some of the pilgrims not following the movement instructions of the security and the haj ministry. however, this is god's will. >> ifill: the disaster unfolded in mina, a valley about three miles outside mecca. separate surges of people met at an intersection with street 204, a main road that leads through thousands of tents to al- jamarat. there, the faithful perform the symbolic "stoning of the devil," a ritual of throwing pebbles at columns. but on this day, many never got there. instead, ambulances and rescue crews struggled desperately to get the injured through packed streets, to nearby hospitals. others were taken by helicopter. survivors recalled the sheer terror of being engulfed. >> ( translated ): we were coming back from the jamarat and
on the way back, i met my husband, and he was going to the jamarat. they, the pilgrims, began pushing each other and they pushed people to the ground. i was about to die. >> ifill: it was the second major disaster of this year's hajj season. less than two weeks ago, high winds sent a giant construction crane crashing into mecca's grand mosque. it killed more than 100 people and injured nearly 400. the twin tragedies raised new questions about safety measures the saudis have implemented to prevent a repeat of past disasters. the deadliest came in 1990, when at least 1,400 pilgrims died during a stampede in a pedestrian tunnel. now, saudi king salman has ordered an investigation into what caused today's stampede. >> ifill: aya batrawy is covering the story for the associated press. i spoke to her from saudi arabia a few minutes ago. aya batrawy, thank you for joining us. we know you're there in saudi
arabia despite the horrific tragedy today. one of the things we watched seeing this from a distance, we wonder is how did it get so out of control? >> that's what the survivors i spoke to also are questioning, how this could happen in 2015 at a time when the saudi government has been hosting the annual hajj pilgramage for decades now. what the survivors told me is there was a large crowd heading toward the facility behind me to perform one of the final rights of hajj when another crowd coming back from the facile intersected with them. at that point people started shoving and that's when people started tripping and falling over each other, falling over wheelchairs. people were suffocating, bodies were piling up. the streets turned into complete chaos and mayhem. and as we see today, over 700 people dead and the death toll is expected to rise. i was there at the scene ten hours after this happened, and there were still bodies lying on the ground. there were still helicopters trying over trying to ferry the wounded. there were still bodies being picked up. i saw emergency lights being brought in which means clearly
they're going to be working through the night to try and figure out what happened as well as trying to get to people. >> ifill: as we have reported before, this is not the first time there's been this kind of stampede at the hajj, and is this... are there safety concerns that have been worked out in advance by authorities, designed to avoid just this outcome? >> definitely authorities here spend billions of dollars every year to prepare for the hajj and to make the hajj as comfortable and safe as possible for the pilgrims. they're spending $60 billion to expand the grand mosque that houses the cube. >> -- cube-shaped scava, a location people go for the hajj pilgrimage. there are 100,000 security forces deployed for safety and crowd management. there are 5,000 cameras set up everywhere to monitor people for the flow of the crowd. it's a logistical challenge, and so that's kind of the question now is how did this happen? who allowed these two... what
happened that these two crowds were able to intersect because normally what happens are there are roads that are just one way. so crowds don't end up clashing into one another, so there will be roads one way going one way and roads going another way, and that way pilgrims can avoid this kind of thing. >> ifill: you mentioned all of the renovations and the money being spent at the grand mosque. yet there was an accident there also earlier this week where 100 people were killed and a crane collapsed. do they know what happened there yet? >> there's still an investigation into that crane collapse, but i spoke with survivors there. it was a horrific, horrific scene. it was very unexpected. people were praying, looking toward the caba. it was exactly almost two weeks ago today that it happened when a storm happened, a thunderstorm, and wind came out unexpectedly. one of the largest cranes around the mosque that's currently working on the expansion
collapsed. so what authorities are saying is that wind was the cause, but they're also saying that the giant construction company, the saudi bin laden group, which was the operator of the crane, was also partly faulted for not following operating procedures there. so obviously this is something, there's two accidents that have happened in the last two weeks, extremely devastating for the pilgrims here, but also i think for the king, whose legacy is tied to the pilgrimage, whose title as custodian of the mosque in reference to two holy sites, one of them being mecca, it's something everyone is taking very seriously and everyone is planning to see how, you know, this can be avoided again. > ifill: aya batrawy of the associated press, thank you for talking to us tonight. >> thank you. >> woodruff: in other news... european leaders are promising new efforts to process thousands of refugees and migrants reaching greece and italy. the agreement-- early today-- also includes more than a billion dollars in aid for
those still in refugee camps in the middle east. meanwhile, the crisis stoked new tensions along serbia's border with croatia. long lines of cargo trucks backed up as the rival nations cut off imports and blocked traffic in a war of words over the flow of refugees. >> ( translated ): all that the serbian prime minister has to do is to stop this flow of migrants. 9,000 in one day!! we cannot make 50 refugee camps at the border. what we have done so far is good, and we can cope with 4,000-5,000 a day. but above that, no. >> ( translated ): croatia is behaving irresponsibly. by imposing this economic aggression, they are hurting the economy of both countries. serbia is forced to introduce counter measures. we are not happy about it, but we have to protect our state and our sovereignty. >> woodruff: more than 40,000 migrants have entered croatia from serbia over the last nine days. >> ifill: the president of china arrived in washington this
evening for a highly anticipated state visit. xi jinping's plane touched down at joint base andrews, after flying cross-country from seattle. he was greeted by vice president and mrs. biden. xi has a private dinner with president obama tonight. he'll be formally welcomed tomorrow. >> woodruff: mr. obama will meet with russian president vladimir putin on monday, in new york, for the first time in nearly a year. the kremlin said today the focus will be syria, and coordinating the fight there against islamic state forces. but white house spokesman josh earnest charged again that russia's military buildup will do far more harm than good. >> president obama will make it clear once again that russia doubling down on their support for the assad regime is a losing bet. the likely consequence of them doing so is to only deepen and expand the ongoing crisis in that country that doesn't serve
the interests of either the russian people or the american people. >> woodruff: earnest said russia's involvement in ukraine will be president obama's top item. the talks will follow putin's address to the u.n. general assembly. >> ifill: in yemen, an islamic state affiliate claimed an attack that killed 25 muslims at prayer today. the suicide bombing wrecked a mosque in sanaa, as worshippers observed the holiday of eid al-adha. the bomber set off a smaller explosion, then blew himself up as people ran for the exits. >> woodruff: the government of colombia and that country's largest rebel group now say their long-running conflict will end in the next six months. the two sides announced the deal last night in havana, cuba, where peace talks took place. a final agreement would end more than 50 years of fighting. the united states welcomed the deal, but colombia's conservative political opposition condemned it. >> woodruff: the scandal over volkswagen cheating on emissions tests is expanding again.
in berlin today, germany's transport minister confirmed that rigged v.w.'s expanded beyond the u.s. >> ( translated ): we were informed by volkswagen that there are vehicles with 1.6- liter and two liter diesel engines in europe affected by the manipulations. that is why we will continue to work intensely together with volkswagen in order to determine what cars exactly are involved. >> woodruff: 11 million volkswagen cars worldwide were fitted with the software responsible for the emissions cheating. >> ifill: back in this country, the senate balked at de-funding planned parenthood as the price of preventing a government shutdown. republican conservatives have pushed that plan. but they once again came up short of the 60 votes needed to advance a bill, but only after the two parties traded broadsides. >> by inserting into this debate a meaningless, losing attack on women as just a waste of time,
they, the republicans, have decided once again to place partisan, ideological agendas over the well being of the nation. >> there's no reason to continue blocking every attempt to fund the government, or to protect political allies that are mired in scandal. so i'm calling on colleagues across the aisle to join us in standing against a shutdown. i'm calling on them to join us in standing up for women's health instead. >> woodruff: republican senate leader mitch mcconnell has said he opposes shutting the government. he's now expected to offer a so- called "clean" bill to fund operations through december 11th. it's unclear whether house republicans will go along. >> ifill: the world's largest maker of construction equipment, caterpillar, will cut as many as 10,000 jobs through 2018. the announcement today is the latest sign of a worldwide slowdown in mining and energy exploration. and, that, in turn, held wall street back.
the dow jones industrial average lost nearly 80 points to close back near 16,200. the nasdaq fell 18 points. and the s&p 500 dropped six. >> ifill: still to come on the newshour: pope francis before congress. a look at the message he's delivered so far on his visit. and, making sense of the uneven recovery in america's housing market. >> woodruff: the pope wrapped up his historic trip to washington d.c. today. and it started with an address to congress, one that was notable for his call to action on economic, political and social issues. william brangam begins our coverage. >> mr speaker, the pope of the holy see >> brangham: it was the first time those words have ever been heard in the united states congress.
pope francis entered to a standing ovation from the house and senate, and members of the cabinet. >> i am most grateful for your invitation to address this joint session of congress in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." >> brangham: speaking slowly-- in english-- the pontiff used the occasion to call for action on several issues from poverty to immigration. his appeal encompassed the thousands of refugees arriving in europe, as well as latin americans coming to this country. >> we must not be taken aback by their numbers but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as
best as we can to their situation. >> brangham: the pope also urged lawmakers to address climate change, and he called for the "global abolition" of the death penalty. >> brangham: democrats applauded all of those things, while republicans-- especially-- cheered when francis alluded to the church's long-time stance against abortion.
>> brangham: the pope did not directly address congress' current fight over funding for "planned parenthood", but he did ask congress to put aside its partisan divisions. >> brangham: afterward, as the pope moved outside, members of both parties were left to contemplate his message. >> he said to us that we have to do more than just possessing space translated to me you have to come here and stand up for the issues. you have to take a position and you have to make sure that you represent all the people and to keep that in mind. >>i think people appreciated the fact that he recognized the difference of opinion here about how we should go forward and he
was just saying we should go forward and there are ways to do it that won't affect people put people out of work and i think we appreciated that. >> brangham: as for francis, there was more cheering in store outside the west front of the capitol, where thousands had gathered, hoping for a glimpse of the pope. there, he reverted to his native spanish, delivering a prayer for the children in the joyful crowd below. >> this person that we read stories about and who is inspiring so many people catholics and non-catholics, to see him in person was incredible. >> he radiates happiness. he radiates happiness. he radiates peace which i think is something we all need right now. >> brangham: later, the pope traveled to st. patrick's parish church where he delivered a prayer and met with some of washington's homeless. that was his last event in the nation's capital. after a short break, he flew on to new york, the next stop on his six-day u.s. tour. for the pbs newshour, i'm william brangham in washington >> woodruff: our political director lisa desjardins was in the crowd on the west front of the capitol for the pope's
speech and joins us now. so lisa, it was a call to action in what the pope had to say. we just heard both republicans and democrats saying they liked different parts of what he had to say. you've been on the hill talking to people. what have you heard? >> you know, what i expected was to hear republicans say, oh, this is a liberal pope, we agree with him on some things, not on others, but what i heard instead surprised me today. both parties heard a challenge from the pope, and republicans in particular, for whom i think the pope challenged perhaps on immigration and perhaps on climate change, democrats think so at least, republicans say they hold some of their conservative viewpoints on those issues, judy, they say especially on the environment that his tone indicated that he sees the united states as a leader, and especially a leader in technology, like renewable technology, and i think that's such a great example of what happened today or what might be happening from this speech. the pope's words were so important and i think carefully chosen.
he found perhaps areas where maybe republicans and democrats can find leadership room internationally, like on the environment. >> woodruff: so does that mean, whether it's minds changing or agreement coming, he did talk about the polarization in congress and in the country. >> yes. >> woodruff: do you think that means it may lead to something? >> i don't think positions will change on immigration. i don't think they're going to change on say planned parenthood, abortion or the death penalty, but i do see a little room from the pope on the issue of climate and environment, and talking to republicans today, they say perhaps even if they don't change say cap and trade, they're not suddenly all going to be for something like that that they see as a problem, but perhaps there will be a dialogue where there's more acknowledgment of a problem and a more careful look from those who don't see a problem. note the pope did not use the term "climate change."
the republicans like that. that gives them room for dialogue on this subject and some say there could be a change on how they approach it. >> woodruff: what about beyond politics, whether we want to talk atmosphere or whatever word you want to use, did you sense, you know, listening to you and listening to what some of the members said, it sounds like they thought this was really something different happening, it wasn't clearly just another political speech. >> this is what's remarkable. we've been around these members so often. they live in a strange world where they are the powerful, and they only are accountable every two or six years. but i think what happened today, judy, and even to the cynical reporter like me sometime, is the pope made them more human. i heard from dan coates, he said there was a sense of reverence in the chamber. debbie stabenow said there was a sense of hue milltism i ahink he made these powerful people remember that they are human and that they have a human responsibility. that's what i heard again and again from members who don't usually talk like that. that's what was astounding.
they also sort of got rid of that layer of scriptedness that we're so used to. even if for a few hours today. we'll see how long it last. it was remarkable. >> woodruff: maybe it will last. >> hope some. >> woodruff: lisa desjardines, thank you. >> >> ifill: now we turn to the next leg of the pope's trip, and the anticipation and security surrounding his time in new york city. he landed late this afternoon at kennedy international airport, where a crowd greeted him, he took a helicopter to wall street, and then headed toward st. patrick's cathedral. hari sreenivasan was one of those outside and i spoke to him a short time ago. hari, i see you're front and center there in from the of st. patrick's cathedral. tell me, what's the security like in the city, the city that shuts down when anybody comes to town, but with the pope, it must be something. >> that's right. imagine a super bowl. multiply that by four and put it in downtown manhattan for a period of two and a half days or some this area up and down fifth
avenue, if anybody has been to new york, they've probably been to rockefeller center, there is no traffic here. they've closed it for several blocks in either direction from st. patrick's. there's a place where he's going to rest overnight. that has security. central park is preparing. and tomorrow he has four different places he's going to in the city as soon as he wakes up. it's kind of a non-stop schedule for him. everywhere he goes, there has to be this level of security that goes ahead of him. >> ifill: we saw a little bit of this here in washington, but it's not like what you'll see there. give us a thumbnail sketch of his schedule, where he's expected to go and be. >> for man his age, it's pretty impressive. after he goes to vespers tonight, which is not mass, but a church service tonight with clergy inside here, then he goes to rest tonight. tomorrow morning as soon as he wakes up, he goes... today he was trying to address the nation of the united states through its representatives. tomorrow he tries to address the entire world at the u.n.ful after that he goes to the 9/11 memorial where he has an opportunity to pray and lead
people in a multifaith service, if you almost from there he goes to a school in harlem. and then he conducts a very small mass at madison square garden. so four areas of the city that have to prepare for him, and, you know, they are actually encouraging people in new york, if you can telecommute tomorrow, do so. >> ifill: they encouraged people about that here in washington, as well, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm, except with one extra detail i gather there are people actually scalping free tickets to see the pope? >> yeah. that's right. i don't think the pope or the cardinals or anyone that cares about this is very happy about this, but there were free tickets handed out for to vet he'll have in central park, and sure enough, on ebay and on craigslist, you can start to see these tickets pop up for hundreds of dollars. you can't prevent the sale from happening, but you can certainly strongly discourage it. >> ifill: finally, hari, that crowd we're seeing behind you, how long would you say they've all been there waiting for this
moment? >> so the press was corralled together in these higher-security areas for several hours, and the people on either side of me in front of the church have been here several hours as well. what you can't see is the people that are up and down fifth avenue, people on both sides, and just waiting for a glimpse of the pope-mobile. perhaps it's been awake. perhaps he goes out and takes a selfie with them, i don't know. >> ifill: it's amazing to watch from city to city to city this thing unfold. hari >> woodruff: some more reaction to the pope's speech and some of the issues he staked out, from three important catholic figures who attended it today. jim nicholson sat with house speaker boehner. he was the u.s. ambassador to the holy see from 2001 to 2005 and is the former chairman of the republican national committee. sister simone campbell led four cross-country trips of "nuns on the bus", which focused on economic justice and
immigration, among other things. she's the executive director of a catholic lobbying group, "network." and john carr, who's been working with the catholic bishops conference of washington d.c. he's the director of the initiative on catholic social thought and public life at georgetown university. we welcome all three of you to the program. >> thank you. >> woodruff: so john carr, to all of you, i thought it was a remarkable speech. john carr, you pay close attention to everything this pope says. what stood out particularly for you today? >> well, it was such a different day on capitol hill. he talked about people. he talked about their stories. he talked about faces. i watched vice president biden and speaker boehner, two catholic kids from ohio and pennsylvania. they're old enough to remember when john kennedy was told he should not be elected president because he might take advice from the pope, and now the lead party, the only thing it seems they agree on is they need
advice from the pope. so i was struck by how hard the holy father was trying to reach them. english is not his first language. and there was more gesture, more energy, and how hard they were listening. it was an extraordinary day on capitol hill. >> woodruff: ambassador nicholson, you're cbs who has -- you're somebody who has watched the politics of this city play out for a long time. what did you see today that was different? >> well, it was a different kind of speech from the pope, and i was very encouraged because it was a real elevated speech, and he started out by affirming american values, you know, the land of the free and the home of the brave, and he talked about the emphasis that we have on freedom and self-government and what that's been able to do to enable people in our country and the give them hope and opportunity.
and he also said to us, he said, you have a great system in place. there are big problems. no apply that system and help solve those problems. >> woodruff: it really was, sister simone, a call to action. he referred to four great americans who spoke to the future in abraham lincoln, dorothy day and others. what is that call of action, what does that mean to you? >> well i think his call is we all need to work together instead of pull apart. he lifted up the best of our nation with abraham lincoln and the quest for unity and freedom in the face of the civil war. dr. king and his quest that all could vote and be engaged. dorothy day, to work with the poor and to not make judgments that leave people out, and finally, thomas murton, which touched me the most, was to say that all of this has to be rooted in a reflected space and in dialogue that we need to talk
together to make change, which is something that has not been happening on capitol hill. >> woodruff: john carr, do you think the pope came thinking i can really make something happen in the united states, in this political city? >> lots of people thought he didn't know much about the united states. he's never been here. it was a very respectful speech, as jim said, very respectful of our values, our traditions and four great american leaders. i think he was calling us to our best, but he is an outsider. he looks at the world consistently. he looks at the world from the bottom up and from the outside in. and that is not washington's way. so this was a different message from a different messenger, and we can only hope that his call for dialogue, truth, but to watch the least of these will ring a bell here in washington because those priorities have not been here. we're a city of polarization,
we're the rich and powerful often have their way. the most powerful thing he did today was in the a paragraph from that speech. he left capitol hill, talking to the most powerful legislature on earth, and he went to have lunch with homeless people who have no power at all. so he showed us by his actions what we need to do. i hope they listen. i hope they learn. frankly, i hope they follow his example. >> woodruff: he did have something to say that both ends of the political spectrum could respond to, but there's been interpretation today that suggested it was more... it was a message that resonated more with the political left. is that how you heard it? >> i didn't. >> woodruff: i mean on the environment, on abolishing the death penalty and... >> you know, there are things in there you can interpret probably any way you want to, but i think the transcendent part of that talk was that he was speaking to
our higher angels. he was exhorting america through its legislature to do more. i mean, it was really a gospel message, and coming from man like that, it has such great credibility if not inspiration. my wife said something interesting to me as we were sitting there in the galley watching him come in. all of those people of all stripes in those two bodies jumped to their feet. and she said, why do you think they're clap sog -- clapping so much, which i think is an interesting question. i think it's because everybody is kind of yearning for some spiritual leadership, some spiritual clarity. and this iconic figure comes to washington to close our city down because of this one man comes here. i mean, k street, you could have thrown a grenade down there yesterday and not hit anybody. why is that? i think it's just that he is
trying to appeal to our higher nature and has done that. >> woodruff: sister simone, is that how you heard it, more that than as a political... >> he definitely had a political message. he was very clear on the issue of immigration. he said specifically that we are a nation of immigrants and that's why he feels at home. his country is the same. and then he said, "we cannot be afraid of the stranger. we must welcome them in. we shouldn't be afraid of the numbers. we must see their faces." that was a very direct challenge. i think also on the economy, speaking of the needs of those who are left out in our very broken system. >> woodruff: when it comes to immigration, jim nicholson, as somebody who has led the republican national committee, are words from the pope something that you think could make change happen, bring the two parties together? this is something most of the republican party has been opposed to immigration reform. >> well, no, there's been a lot of good discussion in our party,
good leadership, attempts at immigration reform. we know we have a major... >> woodruff: a different vision of immigration reform, i should say. >> well, it's a conundrum. we're also nation of laws, the rule of law. and we have a lot of people here who violated the law to be here. they're human beings and now they have offspring and they provide a lot of useful function. so what do you do about that? and that's not an easy question. there are a lot of real good people that are concerned about that. i think the pope, you know, he might provide some help in the mediation of that. >> woodruff: john carr, is there followup on this? do we stay engaged? >> i hope some i was struck on the position of immigration. he didn't call for h.r. 2020. he called for us to see the
stories, see the faces. the little girl who broke through the line yesterday, five years old, talking about her parents. immigrants are being demonized in our politics right now. the pope said, step become from that. look at the human stories. look at the faces. remember your own history truthfully. if there was a secret vote on the floor of the house, immigration reform would pass. so maybe, just maybe, we could take a step back, think about the values that are at stake, the traditions the holy father outlined and actually come together. i think criminal justice might be an area. i think lifting people out of poverty. if he gets democrats and republicans to work together, that might be his first miracle. >> woodruff: do you see follow-up... >> that would make him a saint. >> i really think we have hard work ahead. because we have a nanosecond memory in this town. so what we're doing is next tuesday, 35 sisters are flying
in from around the country. we're going to do a will by day on the hill. it's going to be in the midst of the high-tension appropriations battles. they're coming down the line. we're going the say, remember what the pope said. we have to find a way forward. remember the least of these. remember the best of our nation where we do create opportunity, but we cannot leave people out. and we must create a budget that does things. >> woodruff: jim nicholson, do you see lasting effect from this? >> i'm not sure of, that but i hope there is. so it's memorable, so unique when you think about what went on here with this one, you know, priest from argentina who came here to america and the effect it's had on our system and just everything came to a standstill every television set is on and his movement. , that's unprecedented. so maybe it may have some unprecedented positive effect. >> woodruff: when he says something, condemns the arms
trade and talks about what it leads to, does that lead to somebody moving on that issue? >> well, it could. it gives people some authority, because he has so much credibility and has that, what i call his powerful moral megaphone, and when he speaks, he's listened to. and it gives people, wherever they are in these positions, you know, they can sort of try to align themselves with the pope and that does help. i know that from diplomatic experience and being in rome during the iraq war. it can make a difference. >> woodruff: all right. >> he speaks to those who rarely have a voice in congress. and the fact that they heard a different voice with a different message calling us to our best selves, i hope it makes a difference. >> amen. >> woodruff: and on that note, john carr, sister simone campbell and ambassador jim nicholson, we thank you all. >> thank you. >> thank you.
>> ifill: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: a look at the state of catholic education in america. >> but first, the less-told story of homeowners still struggling to keep their homes. if you listen to the headlines about the housing market, you tend to hear about strong home sales in many major metro areas, and even cities where prices are rising so much that it's too expensive. but there's another part of the housing story about places and homeowners that have yet to recover, and prices remain very low. our economics correspondent, paul solman, has a report. part of our weekly series, "making sense", which airs every thursday on the newshour.
>> go, go, go, go! you all right? >> reporter: cheryl and donte ortiz are living proof that the housing crisis is still with us. when they bought their southbridge, massachusetts, home in 2004 for their large family, half of the kids adopted, they thought they'd found their slice of the american pie. >> i got you. i got you. come on. >> reporter: but six years later, it looked like they would lose it. donte ruptured a disk in his back at work and became disabled. cheryl's grad school student loans came due. they fell behind on the house payments. but since the value of their house had plummeted and in their neighborhood had never recovered, even refinancing was not an option. >> the mortgage company had no compassion. they wanted to do nothing to help us, nothing. and i finally said to them, i don't know what you want me to do. i'm explaining to you my situation. you don't... it's like you don't care. and they said, well, it's your problem. put the house up for sale. >> reporter: which they did, in what's known as a short sale,
where the seller's asking price doesn't cover what's owed to the bank. now what had you paid for it initially? >> initially $250,000. >> reporter: what were you short selling it at? >> they brought it down to as low as $149,000. and not one person came the look at it. no offers, nothing. >> reporter: after six months, they pulled the house off the market. there's been no housing rebound at all around here? >> no, no, not here. >> reporter: but the news is that nationally housing prices are on the way back up. >> well, maybe somebody should show me where that is because it hasn't happened here. >> reporter: elisa cherry, who runs boston community capital, a non-profit lender that specializes in helping underwater homeowners, says this story is still a common place. >> this is the story of a crisis that won't quilt, and it won't quit because we're not focused on the difference in how it impacts our lower-income neighbors as opposed to our middle and upper-middle income neighbors. in low-income areas, the
foreclosure crisis continues unabated. >> reporter: really? unabateed? >> unabated. >> reporter: according to the research real estate firm zillow, over half of borrowers were underwait by more than 20%. with homes in low-end neighborhoods more than three times as likely to be underwater. and this tale of two markets is playing out across the greater boston area. david greenwich, a research data management specialist, paid $250,000 in 2006 for his house in the modest but well-tended town of fitchburg, massachusetts, then found it soon lost about $100,000 in central you. after being between jobs for several months, he too fell behind, tried to refinance and got the run around we've been reporting for years now. >> they initially said, you know, let's try to do a modification. okay. fine. i sent them the paperwork, like 60 some-odd pages, all our information.
about a month later, can you send us all the information for the modification. okay. i sent it to them again and said, i just sent you this a month ago. >> reporter: okay. maybe the banks were overwhelmed by the volume of business, but like greenwich, cheryl tisdale wondered, why wouldn't the banks make a deal with homeowners at something like market rates. >> what do you think is going to happen to my house if you take it? what is that going to help you as the bank? you're going the lose more, but, no, i'm out, you know, got to go, you're out of the house, and we're going to give it to somebody else much cheaper. >> reporter: a real estate teacher at harvard business school says the banks don't necessarily want to work things out. >> because the banks necessarily aren't holding their mortgages. they're often bundling them and selling them to investors. investors are very nervous about losing any of their principle. they feel that inviolate. so they have a principle reduction. as a result these values
continue to be in the marketplace. >> reporter: so the bank is afraid of setting a precedent? >> yes, the banks think this would be contagious and they'll lose their investor base, who is ever concerned about losing their principle. >> reporter: are you sympathetic to the lenders for not giving the homeowner the same deal that is actually a price on the open market? >> no, i think the lenders have been short-sighted, because they have been short-sighted, for the most part, this housing crisis has dragged on and on and it explains why the recovery is so slow and so laborious. >> reporter: this is where elisa cherry and boston community capital come in. for the past six years, the organization's stabilizing urban neighborhoods program has refinanced some $85 million in home loans for people in default and foreclosure. >> reporter: what you do is buy the home at the current market price, which is lower than the original one, and sell it back to the owner. >> that's correct.
>> and that works. >> you provide a new 30-year fixed year mortgage. we have bells and whistles attached. >> reporter: boston community capital charges those home own ears higher interest rate in the banks and shares in any appreciation of the home for as long as the home stays in force. as a result... >> we encourage people to clean up their credit as quickly as possible so they can, in fact, go out and get perhaps a cheaper mortgage, take our mortgage out, and cut off any shared appreciation as early has as thy can. >> reporter: something the ortiz's are already making plans to do. >> now i'm in a position to refinance. and i'm not going to have somebody say, oh, you can't do that because you're so far underwater you'll... nobody is going to touch you. >> reporter: one of the bells and whistles that comes with the community capital mortgage is a biweekly payment regiment, requiring borrowers to make 26 half payments a year. two more than needed to cover
their annual obligation. >> the extra two goes into a fund. >> exactly. >> as a cushion. >> exactly. >> reporter: have you had the use the cushion? >> new york but we may need to because our furnace is very old. when the repairman came, he noticed that we have some pipe issues. the plumber said, don't touch it, so your finger might literally go through. i'm going to submit the estimate to fix that with boston community capital. >> reporter: so is the program like this the answer for a large part of the housing market that's still reeling? alease cherry herself says no. for one thing not everyone qualifies. >> you really have to have enough current income to support even the current price mortgage. >> reporter: and nick sees another limitation. >> they don't really have the capacity to do this in large numbers over time. they're doing it in selected markets. they're still running into hurdles. they still need the cooperation of banks. so it's a great idea and it makes a lot of sense, whether it can get to a scale to make a difference, i'm not so sure.
>> reporter: for cheryl ortiz, at least, it's given her family room the breathe. >> we have a good place to live. my kids have their friends. and, you know, we hope that little bily l things turn around, but at least i can say i'm not afraid for tomorrow because, you know, we can make... right now we're making it. we're doing well. >> reporter: for the moment. and in the tale of two markets, that's more than millions of still-underwater homeowners can say. from parts of the boston area that still haven't recovered from the housing crisis, this is economics correspondent paul solman reporting for the pbs news hour. >> woodruff: tomorrow, pope francis continues his american tour with a stop at a catholic school in new york city. since the 1960's, enrollment at catholic schools in the united states has fallen by more than 50%.
but the one pope francis will visit and some others like it have found ways to keep their doors open. the newshour's april brown has our american graduate report. >> reporter: she may only be in fourth grade-- but ngueubou kamwa is becoming very media savvy. over the past few weeks she's been interviewed by dozens of news organizations that have stopped by our lady queen of angels catholic school in new york's east harlem neighborhood to talk about the impending visit of the leader of the catholic church. ngueubou will actually get to meet pope francis and knows quite a bit about him: >> i know that he's from argentina and that he lives in vatican city and that his real name is actually jorge mario bergoglio. >> reporter: 7th-grader jade fuentes has also been studying the life of the pontiff.
>> in class right now we're actually learning about pope francis and how he had loved animals and he still does because he relates to st. francis-- that's where he had chosen his name as pope. >> reporter: jade's mother nicole fuentes went to a catholic school a few blocks away. fuentes says the area has changed a lot since then. >> this neighborhood was diverse, you had italian immigrants, puerto rican, african american, polish. >> reporter: now it's largely african-american and hispanic with fewer catholics and many families that hit hard times during the recession. >>we lost out on a lot of schools and my school was one of them. the church still stands but the school is no longer here. >> reporter: st. cecilia's is just one of about 6,500 catholic schools that have closed in the u.s. over the past few decades. in the 1960's there were nearly 13,000 across the country educating more than five million students.
today only about 2 million students attend catholic school and that's due to a variety of reasons, including falling birth rates among catholics, the rise of charter schools in urban areas, and more catholics moving to the suburbs. the cost of running these schools has skyrocketed too, leaving many struggling to stay open. >> the parochial school system as we've known it over the years is a dinosaur, they can't possibly survive given the economics of the situation. >> reporter: charles zech is an economics professor at villanova university who studies how churches manage their finances. zech says one major change in their workforce has hurt catholic schools-- which are historically known for both academic rigor and strict discipline >> back in the day when parochial schools were administered nd most teachers were nuns, the labor costs were extremely low. you'd be hard pressed to find any nun teaching in parochial schools today.
>> reporter: lay teachers now fill most of those posts. and get paid more than nuns who take a vow of poverty. zech says it can be very difficult to manage these institutions with fewer resources. >> historically church leaders and educators, they don't have the financial background to deal with this kind of problem do they? >> parochial schools are under the purview of the pastor and no priest i know went to seminary because he wanted to run a small business, which is what a parish and a school are. in addition, seminaries do a terrible job on training their guys on management skills. >> reporter: one catholic school network that emerged in the mid 1990s has found an innovative way to deal with the financial challenges of parochial education. there are now 30 cristo rey schools across the country, including don bosco in maryland. >> you alone are the most high, jesus christ. >> reporter: catholic traditions including mass are an important part of the day at don bosco-- which found a home in a closed catholic elementary school.
one of the features that set these schools apart is that they not only offer a college preparatory education, but a work-study program as well. each student is paired with an employer and works one day a week for all four years helping to offset part of the $13,000 a year tuition: senior carlos lopez has spent three years at the washington d.c. area power company pepco. he says he's become more confident, invested in his own education, and now has skills that will be useful in any workplace. >> i got to practice a lot how introduce myself, how to set a good impression, i learned those things are really important in the real world. >> reporter: the president of don bosco cristo rey, father michael conway, says the purpose of catholic schools is much the same as it has always been - >> catholic education came about as a result of the huge immigration process that took place in the 1800s and the cry of catholic families to have their own schools.
many of them were struggling within the public school system to fit in, many of them were ostracized. >> reporter: only now he says many catholic schools are just serving different groups of young people. >> that's why this is a unique school, because its mission is specifically for those who are at the poverty level or below. >> reporter: our lady queen of angels in harlem has a similar mission: making sure a catholic education is within reach for some of the city's most disadvantaged students. but it's found a different way to keep the doors open by turning to a strategy charter schools have used for years-- hiring a management organization to run things. the archdiocese of new york inked an agreement with the non- profit -"partnership for inner- city education" to oversee the educational and financial needs of our lady queen of angels and five other catholic schools in harlem and the bronx. kathleen porter-magee is the superintendent of the six partnership schools >> over the past several years i think the conversation about
urban catholic education has been one of pessimism, of sadness that schools have been closing but i think we're actually at a moment where the conversation is and should be about a renaissance and a real revitalization. >> reporter: the partnership has been working to improve efficiency and share best practices among its six schools and stabilize revenue streams through a network of donors. the schools cannot depend on tuition because more than two- thirds of the students need and receive scholarships. >> i just think is a happy coincidence we have four core values at partnership school. they are integrity, humility, hard work and service and those speaks so perfectly to exactly what pope francis talks about and what he calls us to everyday. >> reporter: and many believe that's why the pope has chosen to visit this school, which has taught children since 1892, many of them from immigrant families like ngueubou's. her father, jean-pierre kamwa, is originally from camaroon.
>> reporter: ngueubou, meanwhile, has been focusing on what's she's expected to do when she meets the pope. >> when he comes in the room we're going to sing the prayer of st. francis to him and we might like talk with him and pray with him. >> reporter: and as many in this community hope pope francis' visit to the u.s. will bring catholics back into the fold, there is also belief that his stop at our lady queen of angels could spark a renewed interest in catholic education as well. for the pbs newshour i'm april brown in new york. >> ifill: on the newshour online: images of syrian refugees making their way across europe have
dominated front pages for several weeks. less visible: images coming from inside the war-torn country. illustrator molly crabapple has been working with a writer, marwan hisham, who sends her cell phone images from syria and iraq. the pair have published a series of stunning scenes from the region. you can find a gallery of that work, on our home page. and a new report shows that children are getting adopted more quickly today than a decade ago. adoption advocates say that's benefiting families. we lay out the data from the latest study. all that and more is on our web site, pbs.org/newshour >> woodruff: and that's the newshour for tonight. on friday, we'll look at what's on the table for the president of china's visit to the white house. i'm judy woodruff >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. join us on-line and again here tomorrow evening with mark shields and david brooks. for all of us at the pbs newshour, thank you and good night.
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