With many states having kicked off or about to convene their annual legislative sessions, there has been a new wave of headlines about housing initiatives and how the affordability crisis affects constituents in a lot of districts. Housing affordability is an issue nearly everywhere in the United States. It’s an issue that lawmakers at every level grapple with because it is pervasive for the families who live and work in their communities and it is integral to the long-term viability of the communities themselves.
Even for those lucky enough not to worry about the difference between how much they make and how much they have to pay in rent or on a mortgage, there are concerns about the changing landscape of their communities as socioeconomic diversity is supplanted by the escalating cost of living. The drastic circumstances apparent in the Bay Area of California aren’t limited to San Francisco and other cities – they are widespread trends growing in severity because we aren’t effectively addressing fundamental issues of economic equity.
Restoring access to homeownership isn’t just about the comfort and safety of a roof over our heads. It’s a mechanism for individuals and families to reclaim ownership in their communities – literally and figuratively. Owning homes that we tend to, pay taxes on, and have longevity in vests us in the outcomes of our neighbors, the strength of our schools and local businesses, and the overall quality of the place that we share. Homeownership is a mechanism to restore wealth-building opportunity to individuals and families by restoring personal economic agency. Homeownership not only gives us control of our largest monthly expense, it’s a model that allows us over time to leverage the investment, putting the dollars that we have spent on housing to work for our children and maybe even their children.
Homeownership isn’t the singular solution to our nation’s opportunity crisis. But it is essential to the holistic solutions that we must enact to stem the growing economic marginalization of more and more of our people. Homeownership matters.