FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Future for Homeownership

At this point, it’s no secret that America has an affordable housing problem. Home ownership, long the staple of the “American Dream,” is increasingly a privilege enjoyed only by the wealthier and whiter.

For many young people, the opportunity their parents had to build stable wealth through home ownership seems like a cruel joke in today’s economy. There’s even a viral tweet: “Millennials. Walking around like they rent the place.”

But the housing situation in the U.S. is no laughing matter.

According to the Pew Research Center, America has more renters than now than at any point in the last 50 years. A generational shift in lifestyle choices? Unlikely. A 2016 survey of renters found that 72 percent would like to own a home, but many were holding off for financial reasons.

For many millennials, the choice between a job and an opportunity to own home is a stark one. As manufacturing and farming communities have declined, job opportunities are concentrating in cities like San Francisco and New York, hubs for the knowledge economy where homeownership is far out of reach for ordinary Americans.

For young people of color, the situation is even worse. Decades of racial disparities in housing policy and markets locked their families out of the wealth building opportunities enjoyed by the parents and grandparents of many white people. Those impacts are still felt today.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 72 percent of whites own their homes, compared to 57 percent for Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders, 48 percent for Hispanics, and 42 percent for blacks.

And even when homeownership was attainable, these owners of color built wealth slower than their white counterparts. A recent Zillow study found that 80 years after the federal government used racial redlining to determine “good” and “bad” neighborhoods for mortgage lending, the impacts of this discrimination are still being felt in depleted home values for many black owners.

Simply put, the American housing system may not be sustainable — either morally or economically. Fixing this system and getting the American dream back on track means rethinking how home ownership works, and who has access to it.

One idea? Community-controlled land and housing, like land trusts and housing co-operatives. The idea is to create opportunities for people often excluded from the ownership economy, while also keeping a community’s long-term interests in mind.

For instance, a community land trust works by entrusting ownership of a piece of land to a nonprofit dedicated to permanent affordability. That nonprofit can then sell homes on this land at below-market prices — with the provision that the new owners are obligated to pass this affordability on to the next buyer when they sell.

Locking in affordability like this means that economic revitalization doesn’t need to be accompanied by the kind of skyrocketing prices making homes so unaffordable in cities like San Francisco or Boston. And it means that there’s always an affordable first rung on the ladder of homeownership for future generations.

Even in cities where homes aren’t expensive now, this can protect affordability for the future.

These are strategies with decades of on-the-ground testing behind them, and they’re ready to be scaled up. For example, Proud Ground, a Portland-based nonprofit community land trust, has served more than 300 families since the early 1990s.

There are an estimated 225 active community land trusts across the country with a similar structure as Proud Ground. Many of these are small, and some are just getting off the ground. But with proper support, they can spread and grow to be a key part of the affordable homeownership solution America needs.

Jarrid Green is a Senior Research Associate at the Democracy Collaborative.

Distributed by OtherWords.org.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

April 22, 2019
Melvin Goodman
The NYTs Tries to Rehabilitate Bloody Gina Haspel
Robert Fisk
After ISIS, a Divided Iraq, Wounded and Grief-Stricken
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange as Neuroses
John Laforge
Chernobyl’s Deadly Effects Estimates Vary
Kenneth Surin
Mueller Time? Not for Now
Cesar Chelala
Yemen: The Triumph of Barbarism
Kerron Ó Luain
What the “White Irish Slaves” Meme Tells Us About Identity Politics
Andy Piascik
Grocery Store Workers Take on Billion Dollar Multinational
Seiji Yamada – Gregory G. Maskarinec
Health as a Human Right: No Migrants Need Apply
Howard Lisnoff
Loose Bullets and Loose Cannons
Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada
Dreaming in Miami
Graham Peebles
Consuming Stuff: The Polluting World of Fashion
Robert Dodge
Earth Day: Our Planet in Peril
Weekend Edition
April 19, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
What Will It Take For Trump to Get His Due?
Roy Eidelson
Is the American Psychological Association Addicted to Militarism and War?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Time is Blind, Man is Stupid
Joshua Frank
Top 20 Mueller Report “Findings”
Rob Urie
Why Russiagate Will Never Go Away
Paul Street
Stephen Moore Gets Something Right: It’s Capitalism vs. Democracy
Russell Mokhiber
Why Boeing and Its Executives Should be Prosecuted for Manslaughter
T.J. Coles
The Battle for Latin America: How the U.S. Helped Destroy the “Pink Tide”
Ron Jacobs
Ho Chi Minh City: Nguyen Thai Binh Street
Dean Baker
Fun Fictions in Economics
David Rosen
Trump’s One-Dimensional Gender Identity
Kenn Orphan
Notre Dame: We Have Always Belonged to Her
Robert Hunziker
The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems
Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.
Paddy Wagon
Brett Wilkins
Jimmy Carter: US ‘Most Warlike Nation in History of the World’
John W. Whitehead
From Jesus Christ to Julian Assange: When Dissidents Become Enemies of the State
Nick Pemberton
To Never Forget or Never Remember
Stephen Cooper
My Unforgettable College Stabbings
Louis Proyect
A Leftist Rejoinder to the “Capitalist Miracle”
Louisa Willcox
Aldo Leopold’s Land Ethic and the Need for a New Approach to Managing Wildlife
Brian Cloughley
Britain Shakes a Futile Fist and Germany Behaves Sensibly
Jessicah Pierre
A Revolutionary Idea to Close the Racial Wealth Divide
George Burchett
Revolutionary Journalism
Dan Bacher
U.S. Senate Confirms Oil Lobbyist David Bernhardt as Interior Secretary
Nicky Reid
The Strange Success of Russiagate
Chris Gilbert
Defending Venezuela: Two Approaches
Todd Larsen
The Planetary Cost of Amazon’s Convenience
Kelly Martin
How the White House is Spinning Earth Day
Nino Pagliccia
Cuba and Venezuela: Killing Two Birds With a Stone
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Guadalcanal and Bloody Ridge, Solomon Islands
David Kattenburg
Trudeau’s Long Winter
Gary Olson
A Few Comments on the recent PBS Series: Reconstruction: America After the Civil War
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail