Why the American Dream Is Fading

Just before Thanksgiving, USA Today ran a story about how a “Slide in homeownership threatens the American Dream.” It’s an interesting piece about how homeownership peaked 10 years ago, and why it is no longer attainable for so many.

While the story hit on many important points, there were several that were missed that were relevant nationally, as well as here in our community.

  • The working poor are paying more than 50 percent of their incomes on housing costs, reducing the amount available for food, medicine and child care. 
  • Mortgages are still difficult to obtain if you have less than stellar credit.  This is keeping families that traditionally buy homes in rental properties.
  • Increased pressure on the rental market has driven down the vacancy rate and increased rents.  Greater Des Moines has the fewest available affordable rental properties available since the 1990s.
  • The cost of housing has increased significantly since the crash due to lack of skilled labor required for rehab/building.  
  • In Greater Des Moines, there is a need for at least 10,000 new units to meet the needs of individuals and families on fixed incomes or working minimum wage jobs.   

So what can be done?  At HOME, Inc., we are working to address the issue by:

  • Creating affordable rental opportunities with supportive services for low-income families.  
  • Providing the Stable Families Homeless Prevention program to keep families with children in their homes and kids in their schools. 
  • Emphasizing education and case management to help transition people from into permanent rental or move from rental to homeownership.

There isn’t a quick fix, but together we can make the American Dream of owning a home a reality.

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