Home Ownership Isn’t a Housing Policy

closed door. from shootamins flickr

closed door. from shootamins' flickr

The mortgage-driven economic crisis brings into question the longstanding goal of the US government to keep home prices high and encourage home ownership says an article in the Boston Globe by some fancy professor at Harvard.  Making homeownership a national priority doesn’t make a whole lot of sense – encouraging home ownership does not equate to housing more people, but it does mean encouraging more lending from banks, more teardown/buildup of cheap housing by construction companies, and more people flocking to the far-exurbs.

Encouraging ownership at the expense of renters was a centerpiece of post World War Two racist FHA loan policies that led to white-flight from urban centers, and the national obsession with ownership came back around to hurt minorities again when banks used another kind of redlining to issue variable rate mortgages primarily to black and latino borrowers.

More ownership of homes does not mean more people housed.  Acquiring a stand alone structure with a lawn, garage and shitty public transportation in the suburbs doesn’t make sense for everybody, and national housing policy should reflect the diversity of needs of everyone, even if those needs don’t feed the interests of banks and builders

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