In the waning days of white-picket-fence America, the burgeoning tenant class is faring worse than ever before
Lurking beneath our current crisis lies a remembrance of the home as it once was for some: with a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. This Levittown promised land, typifying the American Dream, is a powerful myth. It retrieves freedom from the abstract and delivers it into the living room, giving generations an aspiration for their efforts. In the old world, only aristocrats owned land. The United States, by contrast, emblematized the proud property-owning democracy.
The foreclosure crisis kicked this version of the American Dream to the curb. After reaching a zenith of nearly 70% in 2004, homeownership rates have tumbled to just above 63% – roughly where they stood in 1965, when the statistic was first measured. For millennials, the pot, car and garage feel out of reach.