U.S. Government Shifting Policies to Assist Renters?

Posted by Teresa on August 12, 2010 under Housing Trends | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenantscreeningblog.comPoliticians and federal policymakers don’t always agree on how to best serve the U.S. economy and needs of taxpayers. One thing everyone can admit is that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae nearly collapsed in the recent housing crisis, with a huge loss of taxpayer money.

Some critics think an overhaul of the mortgage giants is in order; how long, they ask, can the government sustain guaranteeing 90% of mortgages? Others say the U.S. needs to shift its emphasis away from a goal of “homeownership for all.”

Homeownership in the U.S. fell to its lowest level in 50 years and projections say it could sink even lower. It’s now at 67% and is predicted to drop to 62% between 2012 and 2020, as millions of homeowners lose their homes to foreclosure. Massive government subsidies in the form tax breaks on mortgage interest and avoiding capital gains taxes incentives have not prevented the foreclosures millions of Americans are facing.

Now, government-sponsored home ownership incentives are in question. Some say the policies are outdated and have encouraged overinvestment in housing. The Treasury Department says it’s moving toward big changes—including promoting affordable housing for owners and renters alike. More rental housing assistance for lower-income and senior citizens could be on the way, too.

  • Government subsidies for home owners in 2009: $230 billion
  • Government subsidies for rental market in 2009: $60 billion

Experts say there are many advantages to renting over homeownership. It’s easier to move in search of work, for example. Right now, many families are “stuck” in homes they cannot sell and therefore cannot take advantage of employment opportunities in other cities or states. The lower cost-of-entry into rental housing allows people to save more money, too. Home ownership is expensive, and not always a wise investment.

Landlords could be seeing more qualified tenants, as rental housing assstance becomes more available to folks who need it.