Homeownership Symposium - Filling the Void Between Homeownership and Rental Housing: A Case for Expanding the Use of Shared Equity Homeownership

Jeffrey Lubell

HBTL-03: ost discussions about expanding access to homeownership take as a given that we know exactly what homeownership is. The questions then usually fall into a predictable pattern: What are the risks and benefits of homeownership? How might it be expanded and what are the costs and benefits of the different options for doing so? How can positive homeownership outcomes (e.g. use of homeownership to access better neighborhoods) be maximized while minimizing negative ones (e.g. foreclosure)? But what if we were to take a step back and re-examine the definition and scope of the end goal itself? As others have observed, there is a lot of room in between the extremes of “rental housing” and “homeownership.” By considering alternative configurations of the bundle of attributes that make up the traditional definition of homeownership, we can open up new options for informing the policy debate and potentially develop new and more cost-effective approaches for advancing key societal goals. Following some initial reflections on the definition of homeownership, this paper focuses on a set of policy options that fall in between the traditional tenure options of rental housing and homeownership and are sometimes referred to collectively as “shared equity homeownership.”