In this week's issue, Ben Hallman looks at allegations of abuse and misconduct within an industry that, not coincidentally, began to boom when the housing market began to tank.
Since 2006, about 10 million American homes have been foreclosed. Ben puts the spotlight on those who go to work after foreclosure: the bank contractors responsible for maintaining and inspecting foreclosed and abandoned homes. It's a $2 billion business that has also spawned a flurry of lawsuits -- stemming from a mix of overly aggressive actions, misunderstandings and bureaucratic confusion -- charging that contractors have taken action on homes while people are still living in them, including emptying lived-in homes of furniture, heirlooms, and even pets. In one case -- sadly typical -- a woman named Marie Osborne returned one day to her foreclosed-on home to find it had been entered, pillaged and padlocked by a company that had assumed it was abandoned.
Ben also speaks to contractors and inspectors who are just doing their jobs -- jobs that sometimes mean run-ins with squatters, drug dealers and other unexpected visitors. As one inspector, Mary Sisson, put it, "I've been chased by dogs, I've been spat at, I've had things thrown at me. I've walked in on gang members."
Elsewhere in the issue, Lori Fradkin shares the wisdom she's gleaned in the course of attending 21 weddings, a mix of lighthearted advice and tips for navigating what can be a stressful day -- and not just for the people actually getting married. Some of my favorites: "Remember that a marriage joins two lives, not just two people." "Bridesmaids probably won't wear their dresses again, even if the bride assures them that they'll be able to." (Discuss!) And, "Cliches completely get a pass: No one is going to judge the newlyweds for saying they feel like the 'luckiest people in the world.'"
This week's installment is also the first of an ongoing Huffington series on how we can reduce the destructive force of stress in our lives -- at work, at home, and beyond. You'll find Alicia Menendez talking all things de-stressing on the Today show, Amanda Chan on seven things that are not worth the stress, Laura Schocker on how stress affects your body and your brain, as well as features on why differing belief systems create more stress for women than men, what the French can teach us about stressing less about style, and how to reduce stress in the kitchen when cooking with one particularly delicious but intimidating ingredient.
This story appears in Issue 44 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, April 12.
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