Homeownership Built to Last: Affordability, Access, and Risk after the Housing Crisis

homeownershipDespite the challenges exposed by the foreclosure debacle, Americans at all socioeconomic levels still aspire to homeownership. A new book, Homeownership Built to Last: Affordability, Access, and Risk after the Housing Crisis features essays by researchers at the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies and the GSD Department of Urban Planning and Design, along with other preeminent housing, real estate, and finance experts and scholars. It reexamines the goals of homeownership and explores lessons learned from the housing crisis.

The themes include homeownership as a policy goal in the wake of the housing crisis, supporting the home buying process for low-income households, balancing affordability and access to homeownership while mitigating risks, the government’s evolving role in housing finance, and sustaining homeownership particularly for owners who encounter distress.

Among the surprising findings:

  • People who managed to sustain homeownership through the housing market crash experienced significant gains in household wealth, while most of those who did not keep their homes did not end up financially worse off than those who rented through this period. Importantly, low-income and minority households were as likely to benefit from sustained homeownership.
  • It is possible to responsibly extend credit to a significant percentage of targeted borrowers without undue risk by allowing different risk factors to offset each other.  At the same time, additional methods for preparing and supporting borrowers at higher risk of default are needed.

Homeownership Built to Last showcases solutions and strategies to create an affordable, fair, and sustainable future, particularly for the low-income and minority population in the United States.