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Fault Lines - For sale: The American dream

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Published on Sep 4, 2012

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The US' housing bubble burst nearly six years ago, but the worst may be yet to come.

After a landmark settlement, the major banks have lifted a freeze on foreclosures and government relief has been too small to make a difference.

"We are often portrayed as the bad people, like we basically just come in and make all the money from people who are in bad situations. But the fact is, if we don't buy the property then the bank [will] take the property back."

- Amy Chen, a real estate investor

Public housing budgets have been slashed, leaving larger numbers of people with no place to call home.

The line between home ownership and homelessness is growing ever more blurry, but neither President Barack Obama nor Governor Mitt Romney have made housing a major campaign issue.

Meanwhile, popular anger is rising over the perceived impunity of the banks and some have found innovative ways of fighting back in an age of austerity.

Fault Lines travels to Chicago and California to see how people at the frontlines of the crisis are confronting the collapse of the American dream.

"If you ask people who have been foreclosed upon, whose fault is it? They often they say it's mine. It's my fault, I did the wrong thing, instead of kind of saying this is a systemic problem," explains David Harvey, a social theorist and a professor of anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

"Capital is always producing surpluses, at the end of the day if you have got a profit, you've got a surplus and the big question is what do you do with it.

"[So] what you do is that you take part of that surplus and you reinvest it in something. And in United States, housing and urbanisation in general has been a vast field for expansion of profitable opportunities."

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