Monday, March 23, 2009

"Rethinking rent"

Maybe we should stop trying to be a nation of homeowners, Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow says.

Irresponsible mortgages have been universally condemned, but it is still widely assumed that we all aspire to own homes - and that we all should aspire to own homes.
Homeowners are thought to be more engaged in their communities and to take better care of their houses and neighborhoods.
On a nearly subconscious level, buying a home is a central part of the American dream.

But a growing chorus of economists and housing experts say that this mind-set, too, needs fundamental reform.
Owning a home is not right for everyone, they say: In some ways it's overrated, and it can even have harmful effects for individuals and society.

And the experience of a place like Switzerland - a well-functioning country with only about a 35 percent homeownership rate - suggests that rental housing per se does not unmoor society.