Housing Policy: Turning around the U.S. Disaster

By Peirce, Neal | Nation's Cities Weekly, July 21, 2008 | Go to article overview

Housing Policy: Turning around the U.S. Disaster


Peirce, Neal, Nation's Cities Weekly


A real mess. There's no other way to describe national housing policy in America today.

There's the massive subprime crisis--caused in no small part by lackadaisical federal regulation.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac--mainstays of the multitrillion-dollar U.S. mortgage system--face the biggest crises in their histories.

We have a Department of Housing and Urban Development largely ignored by a White House either contemptuous of or oblivious to the critical nature of national housing policy.

Finally, there's the grim fact: Millions of Americans still struggle to put a roof over their heads. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports there's not a single American community in which a minimum-wage worker can reasonably afford to rent an apartment.

Sums of federal housing assistance do flow--some through public housing and federal "Section 8" renter subsidies. But the vast majority of federal housing expenditures--roughly $80 billion a year--finance the home mortgage housing deduction. Only 30 percent of taxpayers use it. Applicable to homes worth up to $1 million, it overwhelmingly benefits the richest Americans.

So--assuming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can be stabilized--where do we go from here?

Tackle the mortgage deduction head-on, counsels Bart Harvey, recently retired chairman of Enterprise Community Partners, a major national nonprofit that helps finance housing for low-income families. "Even in a time of fiscal distress, it can be done," Harvey told a National Housing Conference gala recognizing him as "Housing Person of the Year."

The federal dollars now used for the deduction, said Harvey, could be shifted to people in real need of housing. One suggestion is to convert the deduction into a straightforward tax credit for low-income renters, or to benefit middle-income renters or homebuyers in highly inflated local housing markets.

But at the same meeting where Harvey spoke, staffers from the Senate Banking Committee told me it would never happen--that the resistance of homebuilders and the real estate industry is so fierce that the deduction is an untouchable "third rail" of American politics.

Maybe so. But it's also true that in 2005, President Bush's bipartisan Advisory Panel on Federal Tax Reform endorsed converting the mortgage deduction to a less regressive tax credit. And our demographics are changing. A big wave of "millennials"--would-be homeowners in their mid- to late-20s--is now fast approaching, notes John McIlwain, the Urban Land Institute's top housing expert: "If they received a benefit, there'd suddenly be a huge rise in housing demand--which the homebuilders should be ecstatic about."

Right now, Congress has an opportunity to help low-income renters by approving the national, affordable housing trust fund. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Housing Policy: Turning around the U.S. Disaster
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.