“For 25 years federal policy has been primarily focused on promoting homeownership and promoting the availability of credit to home buyers,” [Sheila] Bair said. She mentioned some of the many subsidies home buyers get, including the home mortgage interest deduction and the ability to deduct property taxes.
She tossed in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two “G.S.E.’s” (government-sponsored entities) whose role as a guarantor and securitizer of mortgages greatly expanded the ability of mortgage originators to make loans to home buyers — and which are now, of course, in federal conservatorship, with taxpayers holding the bag for their gargantuan losses.
She also pointed out that during the bubble, when anyone with a pulse could get a mortgage, the percentage of Americans owning homes rose to an unprecedented 69 percent, a number that was greeted with bipartisan hurrahs, but which turned out to be “unsustainable,” Ms. Bair said.
She concluded: “Sustainable homeownership is a worthy national goal. But it should not be pursued to excess when there are other, equally worthy solutions that help meet the needs of people for whom homeownership may not be the right answer.” Like, you know, renting.