Is homeownership still an important part of the American dream? That’s what Oppenheim Law set to find out in the latest social media-driven poll on its Facebook fan page.
The results leaned toward favoring home ownership as part of the classic U.S. lifestyle. But there could be new rules for the American Dream in the future.
Jody Cohen believes home ownership is indeed still the American dream despite the state of the economy. “The dynamics have changed somewhat,” she says, “but people are very creative when they need to be. I know I have.”
As Alan Schneider sees it, home ownership is keeping the economy afloat. In an interesting perspective on strategic defaults, he figures people who are living in homes they own—and who aren’t paying their mortgage, taxes and insurance—have plenty of available cash to spend. In other words, government policies are allowing people to milk the system and stay in their homes free for extended periods of time, as well as cash in on welfare, unemployment, Section 8 housing, food stamps, Medicaid, and so on.
“Heck, I’m thinking of laying myself off and collecting all of these benefits. Too bad since my divorce I have been renting from people that don’t have mortgages on their properties that are in foreclosure,” Schneider says sarcastically. “I could have been living rent free and saving up lots of money to buy a nice foreclosed property at one-third of its previous price …”
Ronald Louis has a slightly different view: home ownership is an important part of life everywhere—not just in America. The American Dream, he says, is freedom and equal justice, not the material things consumers covet.
“When the Clinton and Bush administrations promoted home ownership as part of the American Dream, that got us into trouble, didn’t it?” Louis asks. “The opportunity to save enough money to purchase a home safely needed to be provided, not just cheap, unsafe loans to people who really weren’t qualified—including many middle class people. As a lawyer (and educator), we should be focusing on the ‘American Dream’ theme of your question, in order to learn from our recent mistakes.”