Thursday, September 3, 2009

WSJ Letter-to-the-Editor: A New American Dream Requires a Balanced Federal Housing Policy

The following Letter-to-the-Editor was submitted to the Wall Street Journal on August 17 in response to the August 15 article "The New American Dream: Renting."

A balanced federal housing policy focused on both homeownership and rental homes is part of the answer to preventing another foreclosure crisis. Creating this balance at the national level will alleviate some the pressure that families may feel to move into homeownership before they are financially prepared.

It is also unbalanced federal policies that have helped to encourage today's sprawling suburbs and exurbs, which can often be the only place where families can find affordable housing. Unfortunately, this housing can be far from city and employment centers, and results in long commutes, as well as high gas prices due to a heavy reliance on cars. These policies continue to negatively impact the work and family life of tens of millions of Americans – not to mention the environment and energy costs.

As a nation we must create incentives for the development of affordable housing near employment and mass transit through balanced policies. The American Dream is about more than rental housing and homeownership. By connecting affordable housing with transit, jobs and family life, federal policies will help capture the true meaning of “Home Sweet Home.”

Conrad Egan
President and CEO of the National Housing Conference

Conrad Egan is president and CEO of the National Housing Conference. With more than 40 years of experience in the affordable housing industry, he previously held positions at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and NHP, Inc. During 2001 and 2002, he took a leave of absence from NHC to serve as executive director of the Millennial Housing Commission, established by the United States Congress to recommend ways to better support good housing for all Americans. Egan also served for eight years as a commissioner for the Fairfax County, Virginia, Redevelopment and Housing Authority (FCRHA), and as chairman of the FCRHA for six of those years.

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