United States Housing Policy and Social Inequality: Homeownership, Renting, and the Necessity of Change

Dilldine, Cullen
U.S. federal housing policy has communicated a preference for homeownership over renting for the past 100 years. Arguments to encourage homeownership include its economic and social benefits and the general stability it provides to both the individual buyers and the surrounding neighborhoods and communities. This paper explores how renting policies have created and maintained social inequality. Changing economic conditions, predatory and discriminatory lending practices, and demographic shifts have all contributed to the conditions under which homeownership receives preferential treatment in terms of housing assistance as compared to rental assistance. These conditions suggest that shifting policy towards rental assistance could help facilitate both immediate and long term housing assistance success in a way that homeownership may not. Ultimately, shifting federal housing policy towards rental assistance could create more accommodating policy and more effectively reduce the social inequality inherent in housing in the United States today.
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