The housing market, too, has not fully recovered from the recession. Although population growth means there are 8 million more households in the country than there were in 2006, there now are 400,000 fewer homeowners. Before the recession, the homeownership rate in the United States was 69 percent, according to the Federal Reserve. Now, it’s 63 percent. A drop of six percentage points may seem small, but it represents a tremendous amount of pain and suffering for the millions of families who once had homes and no longer do. These are all families, like the Santillans, who saw the money they had accumulated disappear, who saw their credit scores ruined, who have not caught back up to where they once were.
Perhaps worse, millions of families like the Santillans essentially put their lives on hold for years during the recession, figuring out how to survive rather than how to thrive. The foreclosure crisis and subsequent recession didn’t just deplete families’ wealth—the instability it caused also meant that families like the Santillans lost out on years of productive economic activity.