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Homeownership rate continues to drop (63%); why aren’t politicians talking about it?

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Author: Brian

The American homeownership rate is 63%, matching 1993 levels:

Overall, home ownership, the cornerstone of the American Dream, is down to 63 percent, a far cry from the 69 percent registered in 2004. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University’s annual “State of the Nation’s Housing” report said current home ownership percentages rival that of 1993.

Those figures, however, are much worse for minorities, especially blacks. “The homeownership rate for minorities continues to lag: It peaked at 51.3 percent in 2004, and has now fallen to 47.2 percent. Of all minority groups, African Americans have the lowest rate of homeownership, just 43.8 percent,” said the report.

The reason for the decline is the languishing economy and poor pay. Harvard said that a key factor is the “steady erosion” of incomes since the recession began.

While I would assume most politicians would continue to support the idea of homeownership (and most major politicians since the early decades of the 1900s have done so), I haven’t really heard much about this in policy debates. Perhaps this is because other issues – immigration, gay marriage, taxes – have been in the spotlight but homeownership was a pretty foundational idea for much of the last century of American life. Or, perhaps this is because few people have ideas for how to increase homeownership, especially with the housing crisis of the late 2000s still looming large in the rearview mirror.

If a politician wants to make a novel/old tried and true argument for the 2016 election, they could push homeownership for all again. The rental market is tight, the bottom end of the housing market is sluggish, and I imagine there are a lot of voters who would like to hear how they can purchase a home.

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