A Nation of Homeowners: The American (Day)dream
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Since the colonial era, a preference for private property and homeownership has prevailed in America. For most Americans, a home is more than just a shelter. It is a long-term investment, a form of security, and a stable place to raise one's children. Homeownership is valued so highly in American culture that owning one's own home is considered a fundamental component of the American Dream. Policy makers have placed similar emphasis on homeownership, with tax deductions, mortgage laws, and zoning codes systematically favoring the homeowner over the renter. The dynamic process by which policy and public opinion shape one another has sustained America's long-standing devotion to homeownership. Here we are in 2011 ? a distinct time to be evaluating homeownership policy. Since 2007, the nation's homeownership rate has steadily declined as a result of the widespread epidemic of foreclosures produced by the mortgage meltdown. Some housing analysts, journalists, and demographers have suggested that the nation's homeownership rate was unsustainably high (peaking at 69% in 2007), particularly in light of stagnating household incomes. This reality has led some to speculate that the lure of homeownership may be fading. A series of articles have since been published urging Americans and policy makers to reconsider their devotion to homeownership. Though many housing analysts have jumped off the homeownership bandwagon, public opinion polls show that most Americans are just as wed as ever to the idea of owning their own home.