Sorry, this isn’t a Seattle-specific story, but it caught my attention this weekend as it seems like a major policy shift on the national level: President shifts focus to renting, not owning
The Obama administration, in a major shift on housing policy, is abandoning George W. Bush’s vision of creating an “ownership society” and instead plans to pump $4.25 billion of economic stimulus money into creating tens of thousands of federally subsidized rental units in American cities.
The idea is to pay for the construction of low-rise rental apartment buildings and town houses, as well as the purchase of foreclosed homes that can be refurbished and rented to low- and moderate-income families at affordable rates.
Analysts say the approach takes a wrecking ball to Bush’s heavy emphasis on encouraging homeownership as a way to create national wealth and provide upward mobility for low- and working-class families, especially minorities. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan’s recalibration of federal housing policy, they said, shows that the Obama White House has acknowledged that not everyone can or should own a home.
So far, so good. I’m not personally a big fan of most of Obama’s policies to date, but this is a concept I can get behind (in principle, at least). The federal government played no small part in the inflation of the bubble with policies that encouraged home ownership above all else, even well before the Bush administration.
One quote in the article really grated on me, however:
“I’ve always said the American dream should be a home – not homeownership,” said Representative Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee and one of the earliest critics of the Bush administration’s push to put mortgages in the hands of low- and moderate-income people.
Pardon me? I don’t think so.
So let me make it clear, I am a strong supporter of the role that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play in housing… I believe that we, as the Federal Government, have probably done too little rather than too much to push them to meet the goals of affordable housing and to set reasonable goals.
You’re not going to see the collapse that you see when people talk about a bubble and so those of us on our committee in particular will continue to push for home ownership.
So please, spare us the “I’ve always said” BS, Barney.
Hat tip: Market Ticker