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What would affordable housing pioneer and USHA Administrator Nathan Straus have thought about the Mortgage Interest Deduction and about government homeownership policies more generally?

If you read the Second Edition of his 1944 book "The Seven Myths of Housing" after explaining the unique and important place homeownership plays in American history and culture he goes on to explain: "It is the truth that the purchase of a house on the installment plan [i.e. with a mortgage] cannot be recommended to families of small income in general and discharged service men in particular. Moreover, government policies directed toward encouraging or facilitating such action are of very dubious wisdom."

Straus understood a basic reality, one that was sadly reinforced in 2007-2009 when the real estate markets were in turmoil and African-American homeowners lost billions in real estate equity, if not their homes.

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