The Atlantic

Why Housing Policy Feels Like Generational Warfare

To Millennials, at least
Source: Reuters / Noah Berger

In his magisterial 2005 history, A Nation of Realtors, Jeffrey Hornstein laid out the country-shaping effect of 20th-century housing policy. In the decades following the Great Depression, the federal government—as well as states and cities—subsidized the creation and consumption of single-family homes. The American dream’s most important archetype became buying a home. “Americans,” Hornstein wrote, “particularly white Americans, came to think of themselves as inhabiting a classless society, composed of one big ‘middle class,’ its membership defined to a large degree by actual or expectant homeownership.”

Recently, however, we’ve lost. The most recent evidence of this remarkable change comes in . The company, which provides financing to homebuyers by “co-investing” with them, calculated how long it would take to save up a 20 percent down payment on the median home in a given city by squirreling away 5 percent of the city’s gross median income per year.

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