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Time to Delink Homeownership from Asset Building

Using homeownership as an asset-building mechanism and retirement plan might not be a great thing for our society.
April 11, 2019, 2pm PDT | LM_Ortiz
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Robert Wassmer and Imaez Wahid set off a bit of a firestorm several months ago with an ill-considered article in Housing Policy Debate that asked whether NIMBYism might actually be “rational” in a world where “likely residents of affordable housing” might actually lower property values. In other words, if the world discriminates, it becomes rational for supposedly non-biased homeowners to do so as well, since other people’s beliefs will affect their property values.

I’m not going to get into a thorough debunking of their argument and policy proposal, because three published responses do the job quite thoroughly: “Comment on ‘Does the Likely Demographics of Affordable Housing Justify NIMBYism?’” by J. Rosie Tighe and Edward G. Goetz; “Affordable Housing and Its Residents Are Not Pollutants,” by Mai Thi Nguyen and Corianne Payton Scally; and, for the scholars, “A Methodological Critique of Wassmer and Wahid,” by Philip M. E. Garboden and Prentiss A. Dantzler. They are currently free to download, but that might be temporary.

The extremely short version is:

(You can also see Wassmer’s response to the feedback here.)

One thing that struck me about this whole kerfuffle, though, is that it’s a good example of why using homeownership as an asset-building mechanism and retirement plan might not be a great thing for our society.

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Published on Friday, April 5, 2019 in Shelterforce
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