Eleanor Roosevelt asked "What Happened to the American Dream?" in an essay she wrote in The Atlantic in 1961. The focus was the Cold War, and her intent was to fire passion and resolve around democracy to conquer the fear of fear itself, incarnated then by an aggressive Soviet Russia.
But in that essay, she wrote these words in answer to her own question in the story's title.
"The future will be determined by the young, and there is no more essential task today, it seems to me, than to bring before them once more, in all its brightness, in all its splendor and beauty, the American dream, lest we let it fade."
Housing, much less owning a home, was far from the scope of these words in their context. Eleanor Roosevelt was talking about Americans' freedoms and the fiber of a democratic culture. She continues:
No single individual, of course, and no single group has an exclusive claim to the American dream. But we have all, I think, a single vision of what it is, not merely as a hope and an aspiration, but as a way of life, which we can come ever closer to attaining in its ideal form if we keep shining and unsullied our purpose and our belief in its essential value.
The American Dream today means that hard work and financial success form a cause and effect bond. It matters as both and inspiration and a practical motivation. Owning a home, since the 1930s Depression has practically been synonymous with the American Dream.
This Quartz analysis from Mechele Dickerson, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, raises questions about the health of the American Dream, which Dickerson notes, was coined as a term about 85 years ago by James Truslow Adams, who wrote:
"That dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement."
But in three critical areas--housing, economic mobility, and retirement (in)security--things appear to be getting worse, not better, irrespective of "ability or achievement."
Read this piece. It's a testament to why America needs home builders and community developers to do what you do.