Earlier this year, we heard from Suzanne Mettler and her book on the politics of policies hidden from view. Mettler explained that most Americans are benefiting from numerous public policies, but often fail to notice it because participation is hidden in the tax code. This leads to a disconnect between many citizens and the government.
This week, we return to similar terrain, with an excellent new book on homeownership policy. Chloe Thurston
has written At the Boundaries of Homeownership: Credit, Discrimination, and the American State
(Cambridge University Press, 2018). Thurston is assistant professor of political science at Northwestern University.
In the book, Thurston traces the evolution of homeownership policy since the Great Depression. These federal policies were a lifeline for many Americans, providing a variety of ways to promote homeownership through federally-backed insurance programs and policies embedded in the tax code. Not all Americans were so lucky. Thurston shows the ways that federal policy makers excluded African Americans from the benefits of the policies in the 1930s and 40s, and later the way women were shut out of homeownership policies in the 1970s. The focus of the book, though, is on the organized response of groups like the NAACP and NOW to challenge these discriminatory policies and challenge the status quo.