Monday, September 20, 2010

Homeownership: Let's move on shall we?

Interspersed among Tea Party cover stories and Jewish holidays, an article on homeownership caught my attention in Time Magazine this month. Click on the link below to read The Case Against Homeownership by Barbara Kiviat.

For centuries, Americans were led to believe owning a home was one more item to be checked off life's list of must-dos. The 3800-word article summarized Geoge H.W. Bush's Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Jack Kemp's theory on homeownership as such: "A house with a front lawn and a picket fence wasn't just a nice place to live or a risk-free investment; it was a way to transform a nation." Sure, this philosophy seems a little outdated; it was the 90s -- a decade filled with spandex shorts, Saved By The Bell, the Macarena, American Gladiators, Tamagotchi, Trapper Keepers and What Would Jesus Do wristbands.

That was then, and 2010 is now. Yet surprisingly, after roughly two years of battling through an economic downturn, US citizens continue to aim (and struggle) to check off the not-so-small box on life's little list. Star Korajkic, a recent homeowner mentioned in the Time article, moved from an apartment in Burlington, Vermont, to a home in "a modest Cape Cod." Korajkic's husband works 11-hour shifts as a truck driver and Star works two jobs in order to pay their mortgage. According to Star, the sacrifice is worth it.

So, I ask you...is it really worth it? Would you rather rent a more affordable, smaller, yet comfortable apartment with one career in hand than own a home and work two jobs to break even?? Do homeowners work so much they barely have time to enjoy what they've built for themselves??

This year, Fannie Mae conducted a survey on homeownership. The following are the two top reasons why people chose to own a home.
1.) "It means having a good place to raise children."
2.) "You have a physical structure where you and your family feel safe."

Really?? How can I put this delicately? What a crock! Who took this survey? Religious traditionalists living in the suburbs? Are New Yorkers lacking physical structure and living in an unsafe environment? Let's keep the cute comments down to a minimum, please. I think writer Barbara Kiviat wrote it best, homeownership is "deeply imbedded in the national pyche." Almost as if anything less than it is classified as unsatisfactory.

Now, I know what you're thinking. She is young. She has no family (no husband or kids). There's no need for her to have (or want) more space. All this is very true; and clearly, I should provide a deeper look into Samantha McCullough before continuing on: (1) I love to travel; (2) I love to travel, so I move often; (3) I am committed to exploring the world's many cultures, yet I am not committed to one place; and (4) my parents built -- with their bare hands -- their dream house and divorced shortly after leaving their home to Mr. Joe Sixpack. To be frank, all that time, energy and dedication...completely out of the fucking window. Admittedly, I might still be slightly bitter about it considering my very own sweat and blood went into constructing this beautiful home that now belongs to Mr. Joe Sixpack. Nonetheless, based off of these four facts about me, surely enough, the formation of my opinion on homeownership should be clearer. Phew, now since that's out of the way...let's get back on track.

Explain to me the difference between these two photos.

Photo A.
Photo B.

Owning a home. "It means having a good place to raise children" and "you have a physical structure where you and your family feel safe."

Which photo makes you feel more safe? Any difference? Since both images are of homes, are both good places to raise children? Or does one supersede the other? Like dropping a pin in Google maps, drop the house in Photo A near Park Slope, Brooklyn around the time of its latest memorable storm. Do you still feel safe?

Imagine if you lived in a beautiful 1600-square-foot apartment in a safe neighborhood in San Francisco, Boston or New York. Would you want to raise your children there? Or would you still prefer the house in Photo A?

I think you get my point.

Homeownership is over. Quality of life is key.

Ever hear of Levittown?? Check out this website:
http://tigger.uic.edu/~pbhales/Levittown.html

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