1/20 Lunch: Robert Lerman, Urban Institute and American University

Strengthening the Economy by Expanding Housing Demand Equitably and Efficiently

Battered home prices and weak demand for owner-occupied housing continue to act as a major drag on the U.S. economy. Job and output losses have been concentrated in the construction industry; depressed home prices continue to expose banks and taxpayers to massive obligations; and healthy recoveries have nearly always involved an expanding housing sector. In this talk, I propose a plan to create 1 million homeownership vouchers patterned after the section 8 rent voucher program. I explain and justify why this approach can significantly expand the demand for owner-occupied housing in ways far more equitable and far less costly than recent policies. In the discussion, we can consider various program design options as well as the likely positive feedback on the economy.