The American (bad)Dream

PrintThe MacArthur Foundation keeps tabs on housing issues through research, including its annual “How Housing Matters” survey. The results from the 2015 survey are not encouraging, to say the least. You can read the survey summary here.

The majority of Americans do not feel we have emerged from the housing crisis that followed the financial collapse of 2008. Three in five Americans (61%) surveyed believe we are in the middle of the crisis or that worse things may come.  As the survey report notes, “persistence of such pessimism seven years after widespread mortgage defaults helped trigger a deep recession is an indicator of ongoing concerns about housing affordability as well as lingering economic trauma.”

Economic trauma, indeed.  The housing crisis is a window into a bleak picture of upward mobility. Nearly eight in ten of those surveyed believe it is more likely that families will fall from the middle class to lower economic status than the other way round.

The wealth transfer of the past two decades is catching up to all of us.  As those at the top get more, there really is less for the rest of us.  No rising tide here lifting all boats–instead, a tidal wave of reduced circumstances that is drowning our dreams and our hope in the future. Are we entering the age of the American nightmare, or can we turn this around?