When a public agency provides financial assistance to enable a lower-income family to buy a house, we should stop viewing this support as a grant of public funds. It is fiscally more responsible to see homeownership support as an investment. Like other investments, this assistance should offer meaningful long-term public benefits. And like other investments, investments in homeownership will require consistent ongoing management. Just as public investments in affordable rental housing requires ongoing property and asset management, public investments in affordable homeownership must be more actively managed on an ongoing basis if we are to achieve lasting progress in meeting our housing goals.
Among some of the states and local governments that embarked on shared equity ownership, many have built successful programs to monitor compliance and manage resales. Often they work in close partnership with community land trusts and other nonprofit housing organizations. These programs have shown that active stewardship can ensure continued affordability and help owners avoid predatory lending and foreclosures. These programs can be designed to generate internal fees to support the cost of monitoring and supporting homeowners over the long term without harming the affordability of the homes.
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