On this tenth anniversary of the financial crisis, there have been many retrospectives on the US government’s response to that catastrophe, with more to come. The commentary to date has largely focused on the extraordinary measures taken to prevent a much deeper collapse of the American and global economies. Measures were implemented to address the immediate crisis and reduce the likelihood of a repeat event. Both had a significant impact. But in examining the crisis and its responses, it is critical to remember that it was triggered and substantially driven by a dysfunctional housing market. The immediate assistance reduced the depth of the housing market collapse. The subsequent regulatory safeguards and consumer protections have made today’s housing market much safer and resilient. However, more could have been done to aid homeowners in the crisis and work remains to provide families with sufficient affordable, sustainable housing for today and in the coming years. As the responses to the crisis are examined, the key role that housing plays in both family financial health and the health of the national economy must be one of the central lessons. Proposals to adjust or roll back the post-crisis reforms are being made, and it is essential to preserve the core advances that have been implemented. Most importantly, critical issues remain pending, and they provide major opportunities to advance a sustainable and affordable housing market that supports families, communities and the overall economy.
September 5, 2018