Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Ownership Society that wasn't

Here's a tragic report from the Chicago-based Woodstock Institute describing the undertow of the "minority homeownership" swell that the Bush Administration promoted so intensely in borrowed civil rights language, except they never really did mean ownership, they meant debt.

Here's how it is now:
"Nearly one in four residential properties in the Chicago six county region is underwater, with just under $25 billion of negative equity. The average underwater property has 31.8 percent more outstanding mortgage debt than the property is worth.

Borrowers in communities of color are much more likely to be underwater than are borrowers in white communities.

Borrowers in communities of color are more than twice as likely as are borrowers in white communities to have little to no equity in their homes. In highly African American communities in the Chicago six county region, 40.5 percent of borrowers are underwater, while another 5.4 percent are nearly underwater. Similarly, 40.3 percent of properties are underwater in predominantly Latino communities and 5.3 percent are nearly underwater. In contrast, only 16.7 percent of properties in predominantly white communities are underwater, with another 4.4 percent nearly underwater..."
And here's George W. Bush talking to the NAACP in 2006:
"Second, I hope we can work together in an America where more people become owners, own something, something that they can call their own. From our nation's earlier days, ownership has been at the heart of our country. Unfortunately, for most of our history, African Americans were excluded from the dream. That's the reality of our past. Most of your forefathers didn't come to this land seeking a better life; most came in chains as the property of other people. Today, their children and grandchildren now have an opportunity to own their own property, and good policies will encourage that. And that's what we ought to work together on.

For most Americans, ownership begins with owning your own home. Owning a home is a way to build wealth. Owning a home is to give something they can leave behind to their children. See, one of the concerns I have is that because of the past, there hasn't been enough assets that a family can pass on from one generation to the next. And we've got to address that problem. And a good way to do so is through home ownership. (Applause.) Owning a home gives people a stake in their neighborhood, a stake in the future.

Today, nearly half of African Americans own their own homes, and that's good for America. That's good for our country, but still got to do more. So we -- working to do our part with helping people afford a down payment and closing costs, helping families who are in rental assistance to become home owners, helping people understand the fine print when it comes to mortgage documents.

One of the things I want to work with the NAACP on is to encourage more people to be able to open the front door of the place where they live and say, welcome to my home, welcome to my piece of property. (Applause.)"
At least he happened to mention the fine print. But in tiny little parentheses.

Here he was in 2004, promoting homeownership as an unalloyed good, not at all in parentheses:

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