There is a problem with the U.S. housing market that few are willing to admit.
The country is experiencing job growth, unemployment rates have dropped and hourly wages have started to increase for lower-income workers. The overall U.S. economy has mostly recovered from the 2007-2009 recession. The housing sector has not.
It’s time for a new conversation about U.S. housing policies.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s goal in 2015 is to increase homeownership rates. But, there is a distinct possibility that homeownership rates will never return to their pre-recession levels given the number of young Americans who either cannot or will not buy homes.
The new housing conversation should stop focusing on ways to justify homeownership subsidies and stop assuming that owning is always better than renting.
Instead, the conversation should ask: what housing policies would we enact now if we focused solely on the economic realities young adults are facing? A new housing conversation would acknowledge that old housing policies continue to work well for the “model” renter — a married college graduate with a full-time job and little consumer debt. The conversation would need to concede, though, that fewer 25 year olds fit that model given soaring student loan debt, higher under-employment rates and lower marriage rates.
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