chapter  8
38 Pages

Homeownership, Debt, and Default: The Affective Value of Home and the Challenge of Affordability

The promotion of homeownership as a national housing strategy has been a central element of American housing policy since the National Housing Act 1949. Indeed, in recent decades, successive administrations have emphasized the role of the expanding homeownership sector, particularly for low-income and minority households, in enabling citizens to realize the “American Dream.” Yet, as the recent mortgage lending crisis has highlighted the risks associated with homeownership, debt, and default, the tensions that exist between the political ideology of homeownership and the promotion of owner-occupation as the sine qua non of the American Dream, on the one hand, and the crisis of affordability and debtor default facing many American families on the other, are brought into sharp relief. This chapter focuses on these tensions by scrutinizing a paradox of government housing policies which promote an ideology of homeownership yet which run parallel to a legal context that does not adequately protect homeowners, particularly those who are at high risk, from foreclosure and repossession.