Economic, political pressures redo dream of homeownership

Kansas City StarMarch 12, 2012 

Despite all that has crashed down in recent years, Americans by their nature still want to be owners, not renters.

Opinion polls make that clear. And homeowners with equity do tend to lead happier lives, much evidence shows.

But economic, political and cultural trends are challenging the conventional wisdom, embraced for decades, of homeownership being the American

Dream for all. Its benefits to the nation are no longer a no-brainer.

Our ownership ethos — and government policies that have encouraged us to take on the debt — helped inflate the housing bubble that burst and resulted in the steepest economic dive in eight decades. The impulse to keep a house, some experts argue, may even contribute to high unemployment, as job-seekers who might find work in a distant place lack the mobility, or desire, to relocate.

Policymakers on the left and right now ask if it’s fiscally wise for the country to let you write off your mortgage interest as a tax deduction.

“Fifteen years ago, nobody was talking about eliminating the mortgage deduction,” said Douglas Robinson of NeighborWorks America, created by Congress in 1978 to help people find affordable homes and build strong communities. “But the collapse of the housing market turned the discussion around — to the point where homeownership is somehow a bad thing, according to some corners.”

But there are still powerful reasons to own a home, plenty of people say.

Read the complete story at kansascity.com

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