Sunday, May 15, 2005

Home Ownership Declines in Bush's Ownership Society

Fascinating data on home ownership during the Bush Administration, published on May 13 by the Center for American Progress....

Today President Bush is speaking before the National Association of Realtors in Washington, D.C. He will no doubt tout his housing record, citing record growth of homeownership under his tenure. President Bush will state that this is an example of his "ownership society." But what he won't tell you is that under this administration, "ownership society" means you own less of your own home and banks own more than ever before.

Americans are being forced to borrow in historic amounts against their homes to deal with stagnating wages and skyrocketing costs in health care and education. Families used to borrow against their homes so they could make improvements to them. Now they have to borrow against their homes just to pay their bills.

Under Bush, growth in homeownership actually declined. The numbers don't lie - from 1995 to 2000 America's homeownership rate grew by 2.27 percent. In the last four years, the homeownership rate grew by just 1.6 percent - a decline of 30 percent. And while the president talks about record homeownership among people of color, this is actually where the sharpest declines occur. From 1995-2000, the African-American homeownership rate grew each quarter by an annual rate of 3.27 percentage points. In the past four years, it grew by just 1.9 percentage points, or more than 40 percent slower. Among Hispanics, the rate of increase dropped by almost half from 3.4 percentage points to 1.8 percentage points. From 1995-2000, the African-American homeownership rate grew by 3.7 percent. In the past four years, it grew by just 1.9 percent.

Americans own less of their homes today. At the end of 2004, the average middle-class family owned 56 percent of their homes, down from 60 percent in the 1990s. The growing middle-class squeeze is forcing Americans to borrow more and more against the value of their homes to make ends meet. The result is a growth in "bank ownership."

The Bush administration attacks those most in need of housing help. The administration is pushing legislation in Congress that will allow local housing authorities to raise the rent on low-income families. In addition, the administration's cuts in Section 8 public housing funds are hurting low-income communities across the country and making it harder for many Americans to make the move from renting to homeownership.

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