In his Feb. 5 op-ed column, “The housing fairy tale,” which slammed U.S. housing policy as akin to Soviet-style central planning, Charles Lane completely missed the mark.
Contrary to Mr. Lane’s assertions, the homeownership goals of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were appropriate; the overzealous implementation that led to lax lending standards and the housing downturn should be criticized.
There’s good reason why U.S. housing policy for the past 80 years has been designed to encourage — not mandate — homeownership. The largest asset for most middle-class households is the equity in their home, not a stock portfolio. Most Americans aspire to homeownership because they know it builds strong communities, is a great long-term investment and is a primary source of wealth and financial security. Indeed, the 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances shows the median wealth of homeowners is $195,400 vs. $5,400 for renters.
Rather than blasting the 30-year mortgage, Mr. Lane should laud it. Without this uniquely American housing finance tool, most households would find it increasingly difficult to afford a mortgage, and many creditworthy borrowers would be priced out of the marketplace. Federal policy must continue to support and protect the housing choice that most Americans have chosen for the last century.
Tom Woods, Washington
The writer is chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.