"The average homeowner in Mountain House is 'underwater,' as it is known, by $122,000.
A visit to the area over the last couple of days shows how the nationwide housing crisis is contributing to a broad slowdown of the American economy, as families who feel burdened by high mortgages are pulling back on their spending.
Jerry Martinez, a general contractor, and his wife, Marcie, an accounts clerk, are among the struggling owners in Mountain House. Burdened with credit card debt and a house losing value by the day, they are learning the necessity of self-denial for themselves and their three children.
No more family bowling night. No more dinners at Chili's or Applebee's. No more going to the movies.
'We make decent money, but it takes a tremendous amount to pay the mortgage,' Mr. Martinez, 33, said."