The ups and downs in housing markets over the past two decades are without precedent, and the costs —financial, psychological, and social —have been enormous. Yet Americans overwhelmingly still aspire to homeownership, and many still view access to homeownership as an important ingredient for building wealth among historically disadvantaged groups.
The recent collapse of the mortgage market revealed fractures in the credit market that have deep roots in the system's structure, conduct, and regulation. The time has come for a clear-eyed assessment of what happened and how the system should be strengthened and restructured. Such reform will have a profound and lasting impact on the capacity of Americans to use credit to build assets and finance consumption.
Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better examines the performance and operation of the US homebuilding sector based on a detailed survey of large home builders conducted by the authors in the period of the great building boom of the 2000s. In contrast to the many books that have focused on the financial side of the housing sector prior to the Great Recession, the book examines the operational side of the industry and what did, and, more importantly, what did not, happen during the period of unprecedented growth.
Rental housing is increasingly recognized as a vital housing option in the United States. Yet government policies and programs continue to grapple with widespread problems, including affordability, distressed urban neighborhoods, poor-quality housing stock, concentrated poverty, and exposure to health hazards in the home. These challenges can be costly and difficult to address. The time is ripe for fresh, authoritative analysis of this important yet often overlooked sector.
Americans are awash in debt. Credit undergirds daily life more than ever before—it is one of the defining aspects of life in the United States today. The damage from a depressed housing market is exacerbated by the subprime lender implosion, sending shock waves through the financial sector, international economies, and the presidential campaign. Most low- or moderate-income people borrow, but they are doing it to stay afloat rather than to keep up with the Joneses. How did things go so wrong?
In Our Communities, Our Homes: Pathways to Housing and Homeownership in America's Cities and States, Henry Cisneros, Jack Kemp, Kent Colton, and Nicolas Retsinas put political views aside to address the impediments to housing and homeownership at the state and local levels. This volume is a compilation of bipartisan recommendations from the authors and success stories from all corners of the country.
Today, more low-income Americans have greater access to credit than ever before, thanks in large part to the growth of global capital markets and liberal use of credit scores. But not all have benefited equally from the opened spigots. Some are overpaying for mortgage credit, others are getting in over their heads, and some have become the victims of predatory lenders.
Debates about housing programs too often become mired in partisan battles instead of addressing innovative ways to solve housing problems as a country. Historically, successful housing programs are only developed with the support of both political parties. Two former U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretaries-one democrat and one republican-a former CEO of a housing trade association-who is a republican-and a director of a housing research center-who is a democrat-set aside their differences to focus on today's housing challenges.
A generation ago little attention was focused on low-income homeownership. Today homeownership rates among under-served groups, including low-income households and minorities, have risen to record levels. These groups are no longer at the margin of the housing market; they have benefited from more flexible underwriting standards and greater access to credit. However, there is still a racial/ethnic gap and the homeownership rates of minority and low-income households are still well below the national average.