No Place like Home: Wealth, Community, and the Politics of Homeownership

No Place like Home: Wealth, Community, and the Politics of Homeownership

No Place like Home: Wealth, Community, and the Politics of Homeownership

No Place like Home: Wealth, Community, and the Politics of Homeownership

Synopsis

In the decade following the housing crisis, Americans remain enthusiastic about the prospect of owning a home. Homeownership is a symbol of status attainment in the United States, and for many Americans, buying a home is the most important financial investment they will ever make. We are deeply committed to an ideology of homeownership that presents homeownership as a tool for building stronger communities and crafting better citizens. However, in No Place Like Home, Brian McCabe argues that such beliefs about the public benefits of homeownership are deeply mischaracterized. As owning a home has emerged as the most important way to build wealth in the United States, it has also reshaped the way citizens become involved in their communities. Rather than engaging as public-spirited stewards of civic life, McCabe demonstrates that homeowners often engage in their communities as a way to protect their property values. This involvement contributes to the politics of exclusion, and prevents particular citizens from gaining access to high-opportunity neighborhoods, thereby reinforcing patterns of residential segregation. A thorough analysis of the politics of homeownership, No Place Like Home prompts readers to reconsider the power of homeownership to strengthen citizenship and build better communities.

Excerpt

A couple of days before her fortieth birthday, Helen Butler bought her first home in the suburbs of Washington, DC. For years, Helen had dreamed of owning her own home. Although she held an upper middle-class job and earned a steady income, she had never been able to save enough for the down payment to buy a house. Still, investing in homeownership seemed like the logical next step in strengthening her financial footing. Like many homebuyers in the years before the housing crisis, Helen was able to secure a mortgage that would allow her to buy a home without many up-front costs. She took out a loan for $465,000, found a nice community within driving distance of the city, and purchased her piece of the American Dream.

For Veronica Fischer and her husband, Paul, buying a home had long seemed a distant dream. For more than a decade, their family lived in a two-bedroom rental house in Portland, Oregon. Each month, Veronica worried that the landlord would sell the property, forcing them to find a new home in a different neighborhood. Even worse, as the family paid the monthly rent, Veronica and Paul felt like they were throwing away money on rent rather than investing in the future of their family. When they discovered a program to buy a home with the help of a local community organization, they jumped at the chance. After years of saving and sacrificing, they were finally able to purchase a home of their own.

And in Camden, New Jersey, Alyson Wilson, a single mother of two children, purchased her first home. A lifelong resident of Camden, Alyson had spent most of her life renting apartments throughout the city. As rents rose and landlords sold their properties, she never knew how long she would be able to stay in each neighborhood. Sending her teenage daughters to school—and encouraging them to make friends in the neighborhood—had become increasingly . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.