The Disciannos are among many exurban families losing their homes and their grip on the dream of home ownership. The exurbs were among the fastest growing counties during the boom -- entire civilizations built around the idea of owning real estate. With home prices falling and unemployment rising, more people are renting -- just as they had before the boom -- and turning the community into a rental economy.


What is happening on the urban fringe is similar to the urban decay that plagued cities after World War II, says Christopher B. Leinberger, a real-estate developer and visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. "Single-family homes and townhouses in cities were broken into rental units. Now, we're seeing that phenomenon move out to the fringe."

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