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USA Todays Knox Raps the Housing Market for Working Families

     USA Today put its own negative spin on record home ownership numbers, declaring in the March 22 issue that Fewer families can afford a home.

     Working with a liberal interest group, the nations newspaper sifted through data on Americas housing boom that has enabled more people than ever to own a home to cite only 59.6 percent of working families owning homes in 2005 compared to slightly higher numbers in 1978.

     In fact, the National Association of Realtors reports more Americans now own their homes now over any other point in American history, with close to 69 percent of families owning homes, down slightly from the all-time high of 69.2 percent of U.S. households in the fourth quarter of 2004.

     Homeowners are also a larger share of the population in the U.S. than in Canada, Japan, and many European countries.

     Citing data from The Globalist, the Feb. 12, 2006 Boston Globe reported that 68 percent of U.S. households own their own homes, around the same rate of ownership as the British, slightly more than Canadians, and significantly higher than Japan, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and France.

     Yet neither of these facts were reported in correspondent Noelle Knoxs front-page article article, which centered around a study by the Center for Housing Policy, the research arm of the National Housing Council (NHC). The group released their latest findings to the press at-large the same morning Knoxs article was published in the national daily.

     In her write-up, Knox failed to find any critics of the liberal group, which she characterized as a housing affordability advocacy group.

     In fact the National Housing Conference has a history of advocacy. A March 3, 2006 NHC-hosted policy symposium featured numerous representatives from liberal think tanks, such as the National Alliance to End Homelessness, the Economic Policy Institute, and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Experts from libertarian or conservative think tanks such as the Cato Institute or the Heritage Foundation that are critical of government affordable housing programs were not on the speakers roster.

     On February 28, the NHC slammed President Bushs proposed reduction in spending growth for housing programs. This proposed five-year cap on spending for domestic discretionary programs would devastate the nations housing and community development programs, said NHC President Conrad Egan. Egan went on to call for Congress to reject spending caps for those programs.

     While Knox reported on March 22 that a rise in the number of single parents was a contributing factor to home ownership difficulties for working families, her February 14 Money section story portrayed a rosier picture, cheering the rising number of single women, including single mothers, who now own homes according to data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

     Although the same NAR statistics showed single female ownership of houses had doubled since 1981 while remaining stagnant for single men over the same time period, she played up the positive trend of increased home ownership for women rather than dwell on a negative outlook for unmarried male homeowners.

     Last year, single women snapped up one of every five homes sold. That's nearly 1.5 million, if you're counting more than twice as many as single men bought, Knox wrote in her February 14 article. Women, in particular, benefit because 25% of single mothers spend more than half their income on housing, compared with 10% of single fathers who do, Knox added, citing Harvard Universitys Center for Housing Studies.