Homeownership In America

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The Role of Homeownership in American Society: Final Copy
Homeownership means more than simply having a roof over one’s head. It symbolizes family, safety, comfort, and to some, financial security. However, homeownership in modern America is a double-edged sword. It can still provide comfort, but it can also require that a homeowner take out a massive loan that he or she may not ever be able to pay back. There have been two major instances of housing crises in American history: The Great Depression and the recession of 2008. In the latter, a new factor played a key role in damaging the American housing market. Homeownership became an attainable yet expensive status symbol for the American middle class over the course of the 20th century. For
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Thousands lost their homes, and the value of these homes declined significantly, as well (Housing Tables). Prior to this decline, there was a push in society for homeownership. In other words, the cultural importance of homeownership increased. In 1931, Herbert Hoover gave a speech in which he said, “home owning is more than the provision of domiciles; it goes to the roots of family life, public morals and standards of living” (Hoover). The conversation about homeownership was centered on the benefits, not the risks. This rather one-sided description of homeownership took place at the highest levels of the nation’s political system, including by the President of the United States. This link between owning a home and morality reinforced the role that the home played as a status symbol. In fact, it takes it a step further. In giving this speech, Hoover implies that owning a home somehow speaks to one’s moral character and therefore has a highly important place in American culture and …show more content…
In 1994, President Bill Clinton introduced the National Homeownership Strategy (NHS) with the goal of raising homeownership to an all time high. Again, the conversation continued to be about the benefits of homeownership, not the ever-present, significant risks. The NHS attempted to create 8 million new homeowners while helping low-income families and minorities that had previously been left behind in the government’s efforts to increase homeownership. The NHS proposal outlines three primary methods by which it would accomplish that goal: Encouraging the construction of low-cost housing, targeting “underserved” communities, and reducing down payment requirements (National Homeownership Strategy). While this may seem like a worthy goal, some parts of it, especially the reduced down payment requirements, ended up harming some of the same people it intended to help. Additionally, references to the cultural significance of homeownership were prevalent throughout the NHS proposal, with the term “American Dream” being used on multiple occasions. The concluding sentence of the proposal’s foreword reads, “Working as partners in this way, we can translate strategy into achievement, making the dream of homeownership a reality for millions of hard-working people and building a

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