The Missing Piece of the GOP’s American Dream

This week, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and members of his party hammered home the point that this country needs leaders who will do what is essential to preserve the “American Dream” not only for ourselves, but for future generations. Gov. Romney said that he was running for president “to help create a better future, a future where everyone who wants a job can find a job, where no senior fears for the security of their retirement.”  We at NCLR have no argument there.  The problem, however, seems to be that this candidate either doesn’t remember all that encompasses the “American Dream” or, more troubling, doesn’t have a plan to fix one of its basic elements: Homeownership.

In the run-up to the election, the economy has, rightfully, taken center stage. There’s no doubt that this will be the key issue for both parties, as both Gov. Romney and President Obama spar over how to get Americans, including many Latinos, back to work.  A job is only one part of the “American Dream,” though. Indeed, everybody should have the opportunity to earn a better living for themselves through hard work.  However, as old as apple pie is the promise for those workers to have a chance at affordable homeownership. A home is key to building a better life and finding a safe place to settle down and raise a family.

Americans have been inundated with the candidates’ overtures about how to solve the economic crisis, yet nobody appears to be willing to tackle the housing crisis that is simultaneously consuming our nation.  Of course, both problems are deeply connected.  In a time when we needed recovery, the collapse of the housing market severely crippled the economy, depleting the value of millions of Americans homes.  And without jobs, how are homeowners supposed to pay off their mortgages and avoid foreclosure?

Still, the proposed solutions from the campaign trail have conspicuously excluded the housing market from economic recovery.  Housing is an entirely different beast that requires its own fixes.  It is worrisome that throughout the three days of the Republican National Convention, there was nearly no mention of one of the biggest problems that this country is suffering through.  And from the Republican presidential contender, the silence is deafening. Where in Mitt Romney’s platform is housing reform?

Millions of people have lost their homes or are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure. The Latino community for one has seen its wealth completely decimated by the housing crisis.  We do not need a silver bullet but we do need to hear from the potential leader of this country how he is going to repair our mortgage market and preserve what’s left of our neighborhoods.  Americans cannot afford to ignore the troubled housing system.

Heading into next week, the Democrats will have their opportunity to address this issue at the DNC. Unfortunately, housing is conspicuously absent from President Obama’s platform as well. It is clear we need solutions to end this crisis.  NCLR and its Home for Good partners have proposed detailed solutions and successful models that can be taken to scale.  And there are many.  All we need now is a leader to take up the cause.

Photo by monkeyz_uncle, CC-BY

Nancy Wilberg is the policy analyst for the Wealth-Building Policy Project at the National Council of La Raza.


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