Chasing the American Dream: New Perspectives on Affordable Homeownership

Overview

Providing decent, safe, and affordable housing to low- and moderate-income families has been an important public policy goal for more than a century. In recent years there has been a clear shift of emphasis among policymakers from a focus on providing affordable rental units to providing affordable homeownership opportunities. Due in part to programs introduced by the Clinton and Bush administrations, the nation's homeownership rate is currently at an all-time high.

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Overview

Providing decent, safe, and affordable housing to low- and moderate-income families has been an important public policy goal for more than a century. In recent years there has been a clear shift of emphasis among policymakers from a focus on providing affordable rental units to providing affordable homeownership opportunities. Due in part to programs introduced by the Clinton and Bush administrations, the nation's homeownership rate is currently at an all-time high.

Does a house become a home only when it comes with a deed attached? Is participation in the real-estate market a precondition to engaged citizenship or wealth creation? The real estate industry's marketing efforts and government policy initiatives might lead one to believe so. The shift in emphasis from rental subsidies to affordable homeownership opportunities has been justified in many ways. Claims for the benefits of homeownership have been largely accepted without close scrutiny. But is homeownership always beneficial for low-income Americans, or are its benefits undermined by the difficulties caused by unfavorable mortgage terms and by the poor condition or location of the homes bought?

Chasing the American Dream provides a critical assessment of affordable homeownership policies and goals. Its contributors represent a variety of disciplinary perspectives and offer a thorough understanding of the economic, social, political, architectural, and cultural effects of homeownership programs, as well as their history. The editors draw together the assessments included in this book to prescribe a plan of action that lays out what must be done to make homeownership policy both effective and equitable.

Contributors:Eric S. Belsky, Harvard University; Charles C. Bohl, University of Miami; Rachel G. Bratt, Tufts University; J. Michael Collins, Policy Lab Consulting Group, LLC; Walter Davis, Statistics New Zealand; Mark Duda, Harvard University; Avi Friedman, McGill University; Edward G. Goetz, University of Minnesota; Roberto G. Quercia, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Carolina Katz Reid, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Nicolas Retsinas, Harvard University; William M. Rohe, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Michael A. Stegman, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Lawrence J. Vale, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Shannon Van Zandt, Texas A&M University; Harry L. Watson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Chasing the American Dream provides a cultural analysis of homeownership that is likely to broaden the scope of a significant public policy debate. This book addresses an important and timely issue: Does homeownership work for low-income people? The contributors and editors also discuss subsidiary questions including: What are the real goals of policies supporting homeownership? To what extent are those policies achieving their goals?"—Susan Saegert, CUNY Graduate Center
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801473616
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

William M. Rohe is Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of City and Regional Planning and Director of the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Harry L. Watson is Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Table of Contents

Preface     vii
Introduction: Homeownership in American Culture and Public Policy   William M. Rohe   Harry L. Watson     1
Historical Perspectives     13
The Ideological Origins of Affordable Homeownership Efforts   Lawrence J. Vale     15
Homeownership for Low-Income Households: A Comparison of the Section 235, Nehemiah, and Habitat for Humanity Programs   Rachel G. Bratt     41
Political Perspectives     67
Federal Policies Promoting Affordable Homeownership: Separating the Accidental from the Strategic   J. Michael Collins     69
Is Housing Tenure the New Neighborhood Dividing Line? The Polarizing Politics of Homeownership   Edward G. Goetz     96
Design and Planning Perspectives     111
Affordable Housing Design for Place Making and Community Building   Charles C. Bohl     113
The Use of Architectural Flexibility for Achieving Affordability in Housing   Avi Friedman     146
Economic Perspectives     169
The Wealth-Creating Potential of Homeownership: A Preliminary Assessment of Price Appreciation among Low-Income Homebuyers   Michael A. Stegman   Roberto G. Quercia   Walter Davis     171
The Financial Returns to Low-Income Homeownership   Eric S.Belsky   Nicolas Retsinas   Mark Duda     191
Social Perspectives     213
The Social-Psychological Effects of Affordable Homeownership   William M. Rohe   Roberto G. Quercia   Shannon Van Zandt     215
Locating the American Dream: Assessing the Neighborhood Benefits of Homeownership   Carolina Katz Reid     233
Conclusion: Toward More Efficient and Equitable Homeownership Policies   William M. Rohe     263
References     279
Contributors     301
Index     303
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