“Rethinking Homeownership” in Sept. 6 Issue of TIME


The cover story for the September 6, 2010 issue of TIME Magazine is entitled Rethinking Homeownership.  (An abridged version of the article is available online HERE.)

The strength of the article is that it highlights the complexity of the homeownership issue.  The following excerpt captures the gist of the article:

Suburban development of single family homes in Lancaster, PA.

A house with a front lawn and a picket fence wasn’t just a nice place to live or a risk-free investment; it was a way to transform a nation …  No wonder leaders of all political stripes wanted to spend more than $100 billion a year on subsidies and tax breaks to encourage people to buy.  But our leaders, with our encouragement, went much to far  …  Now, as the U.S. recovers from the biggest housing bust since the Great Depression, it is time to rethink how realistic our expectations of homeownership are — and how much money we want to spend chasing them.

The article addresses the historical and cultural narratives idealizing “homesteaders” and agrarian life as well as the archetype of the urban metropolis as grimy and dangerous.  It also addresses and calls into question some of the assumptions underlying the traditional response of policy makers — “the more, the merrier” — to the homeownership question:  regarding educational outcomes for children; social stability and civic engagement; the cost to the government (and thus to the people) of incentivizing ownership through the federal mortgage-interest tax deduction.

As for recommendations:

. . . save more, invest in people through better education and training, and use the levers of government to help create high-quality jobs — the kind you can raise a family on — instead of coaxing people into becoming homeowners.

If you have or come across a copy of the issue, Rethinking Homeownership is worth a read.

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Posted on September 2, 2010, in Housing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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