Forget about economic recovery without housing recovery

If consumers are once again to spend the nation out of recession, we need more than Cash for Clunkers.

My brother, Dan Norburg, a self-employed home remodeler, called my attention to an impromptu video made last week by members of the Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City.

I'm not overstating my reaction when I viewed it. It was scary. And sad.

Metro area home builder names that I've known for decades stood in front of the camera to tell the effects of this recession and credit crunch.

Nancy Neighbors, a third-generation family member with Neighbors Construction Co., said her company had gone from 65 employees to 23 in the last eight months.

Don Julian, with Julian Builders, in business since 1974, said lenders are "paralyzed" and even banks with which he’s had decades of unblemished relationships won’t make new construction loans.

Wayne Burton with Western Chandelier — which has persevered since 1898 (!) — said the company had closed its Missouri location, laid off a little more than half the staff and was “struggling trying to make it.”

Smaller companies have been reduced to family-only, kitchen-table enterprises.

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