Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden to name longtime aide Blinken as secretary of State: report Understanding mixed results in Pennsylvania key to future elections What's behind the divisions over Biden's secretary of Labor? MORE recently became the first presidential candidate to articulate a housing policy.  The policy proposes a significant investment to “lift more families into sustainable homeownership” through deployment of a number of government programs. Setting aside the question of the effectiveness of these proposed initiatives, the importance of homeownership to a stable and prosperous America cannot be overstated.
For decades, policymakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized that homeownership drives economic mobility and delivers financial and social advantages to families and entire communities. In particular, homeownership allows households to generate leveraged wealth, using borrowed money to increase the rate of return.  With as little as three percent down and three percent appreciation in the first year of ownership a household has doubled their wealth.  The benefits of this wealth creation engine are born out in the data.


According to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), 75 percent and 55 percent of net worth for the bottom two fifths of income earning households respectively is derived from the equity in their homes. Homeownership is the largest source of wealth for the majority of low and middle-income Americans.
In addition to the wealth derived directly from housing equity, homeownership facilitates non-housing related wealth creation. In the bottom fifth of income earning households, home owning households have 16 times more non-housing savings than renter households. If homeownership has such clear benefits, then facilitating sustainable homeownership opportunities for hard-working citizens will strengthen communities and help households build wealth and create intergenerational economic mobility.
Also very clear is that the children of homeowners have access to the wealth that their parents have built through homeownership, increasing their ability to become homeowners themselves, possibly at a much earlier age than their parents. At age 25, white households already have a homeownership rate that is more than 10 percent higher than any other ethnicity.  Their parents, age 55 and above, have a homeownership rate that is as much as 20 percent higher than other ethnicities.  This only serves to increase the benefits of the wealth creation engine.  What better way to improve homeownership in the long-run than with the virtuous cycle of wealth creation that homeownership provides?
In addition to the direct financial benefits, access to home equity provides families with increased financial stability and an emergency fund in the event of an income shock, and helps send children to college and get small businesses the capital they need. Homeownership is also related to many social benefits, such as increased educational achievement, more civic participation, and even better health.
This leads to an unmistakable conclusion: Homeownership is key to creating stable, economically successful households that provide stability and opportunity to existing and future generations.  These positive benefits of homeownership increase the justification for policies that support increased homeownership across society.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, “a nation of homeowners is unconquerable,” while President Ronald Reagan stated that “the love of home is one of the finest ideals of our people.” Jack Kemp, George H.W. Bush’s secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), once said “Democracy can’t work without the component that goes to the heart of what freedom is all about—the chance to own a piece of property.” Most succinctly, the Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonWomen set to take key roles in Biden administration Biden's great challenge: Build an economy for long-term prosperity and security Biden faces politically thorny decision on Trump prosecutions MORE/Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreKey McConnell ally: Biden should get access to transition resources CNN acquires Joe Biden documentary 'President in Waiting' Former GSA chief: 'Clear' that Biden should be recognized as president-elect MORE presidential campaign said: “Homeownership . . . is an essential part of the American dream.”
Homeownership benefits everyone who participates in it, putting them on a firmer footing and giving them the best chance to pursue and achieve a better life. As families lose access to homeownership, they also lose out on the additional financial and social opportunities it brings. Those with homes continue to prosper; those without further stagnate or even fall behind. Meaningful proposals to assist the rent burdened and aspiring first-time homebuyer to achieve homeownership are a good national investment for both our families and our society.

 Mr. Fleming is chief economist at First American Financial Corporation.