Spring 1986 // Volume 24 // Number 1 // Tools of the Trade // 1TOT2

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Beyond the American Housing Dream


Eleanor J. Walls
Extension Housing Specialist
Cooperative Extension Service
University of Arkansas-Little Rock

Beyond the American Housing Dream: Accommodation to the 1980s. Kenneth R. Tremblay, Jr., and Don A. Dillman. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1983. 157 pp. $11.00 softcover.

In what kind of house do American families want to live? What choices will they make if they can't get their first choice? Is ownership the most important factor in their choice of home?

Since housing plays such an important role in the quality of life for American families, understanding housing trends is essential in planning Extension programs related to housing.

But little research has been available concerning housing choices and preferences. So, our programs have been based largely on assumptions.

Beyond the American Housing Dream, a major study of 2,801 households, examines these assumptions and identifies housing preferences and alternatives to the traditional first choice of owning a conventional single family house. It offers an explanation of people's preferred alternatives in relation to four housing norms: conventional construction, ownership, detached structure, and private outside space. The study found that, rather than ownership being the overriding norm, families sought to satisfy as many of these norms as possible.

According to this study, families in the future will more than likely own mobile homes on owned lots, townhouse units with private outside space, and smaller, energy-efficient houses.

The book may be difficult to read because of its emphasis on research results. Even so, Beyond the American Housing Dream offers many interesting insights for Extension programs.