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Home ownership has been the foundation of American society since our nation’s inception. After World War II and especially over the last several decades, it became the express policy and objective of all of US government to stabilize communities and support families, children and the interests of the nation by encouraging Americans to “own a piece of America”.

Yesterday I met with a woman who immigrated to Florida from Cuba. Within two years she had bought her own home.  Several years after that she sold the home (for a profit) and moved into a bigger home.  She told me that this home ownership, this piece of security and stability and the daily reminder that she had her own place of security and safety was what really inspired her and made her feel that she was a part of this country.  She cried as she told me how disappointed she was by the fact that the opportunities she took advantage of do not exist for her children.

All of government, both federal, state and local have turned their back on the American tradition of home ownership as a foundation of community stability. Mortgage applications are (at least) at 20 year lows.  Meanwhile, more and more foreclosures are being churned out by Florida courts, churned out into a market that does not want them, turned over to plaintiffs that do not want them and abandoned in communities that cannot afford to care for them.

Increasingly, as we drive in our communities, we see homes that are abandoned.  Homes that carry with them the Scarlet Letter of a disastrously failed American social, economic and legal policy, the leadership of this nation (or more appropriately, the financial and corporate interests that are driving and paying for our nation’s leadership) have decided that it is better social, legal and economic policy to foreclose and throw Americans into the street than it is to keep them in their homes.

The State. This State has decided that it is better social, legal and economic policy to spend money to foreclose and turn homes over to banks than it is to repay the billions of dollars looted from the public treasury by stabilizing communities and keeping families in their homes.  This shift in public policy along with other shifts, like burdening America’s youth with more than $1 trillion in student loan debt and failing to provide medical care to the millions of American veterans that have served our country is going to produce profound societal problems as we move forward over the next several years.

There is a simple question: does it make more rational economic, societal and legal sense to foreclose creating houses that plaintiffs do not want or should we instead spend that time and those resources to keep families in their homes?

I suggest that it should be the policy of all of American government to keep people in their homes and no longer make placating the banks the national priority, radical huh? But I’m not alone.

From New Geography:

Today, more than any time, arguably, since the Great Depression, the prospects for improved housing outcomes are dimming for both the American middle and working classes. Not only is ownership dropping to twenty-year lows, there is a growing gap between the amount of new housing being built and the growth of demand.

Our still-youthful demographics are catching up with us. After a recession generated drought, household formation is again on the rise, notes a recent study by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. In some markets, there isn’t an adequate supply of affordable housing for the working and middle classes. Overall, according to the research firm Zelman and Associates, the country is building barely one-third the number needed to meet the growth in households. Overall inventories of homes for sale are at the lowest level in eight years.

The groups most likely to be hurt by the shortfall in housing include young families, the poor and renters. These groups include a disproportionate share of minorities, who are more likely to have lower incomes than the population in general. This situation is particularly dire in those parts of the country, such as California, that have imposed strong restrictions on home construction. California’s elaborate regulatory framework and high fees imposed on both single- and multi-family `housing have made much of the state prohibitively expensive. Not surprisingly, the state leads the nation in people who` spend above 30 percent, as well as above 50 percent, of their income on rent.


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