The American Dream of a home is slipping out of reach for millions of Americans, especially African Americans, as house sales hit a 20-year low, according to a new Harvard University study of the U.S. housing market.

Instead, house-poor Americans are shifting to rentals with such speed that many areas can barely keep up with demand.

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Overall, home ownership, the cornerstone of the American Dream, is down to 63 percent, a far cry from the 69 percent registered in 2004. The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University's annual "State of the Nation's Housing" report said current home ownership percentages rival that of 1993.


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Those figures, however, are much worse for minorities, especially blacks. "The homeownership rate for minorities continues to lag: It peaked at 51.3 percent in 2004, and has now fallen to 47.2 percent. Of all minority groups, African Americans have the lowest rate of homeownership, just 43.8 percent," said the report.

The reason for the decline is the languishing economy and poor pay. Harvard said that a key factor is the "steady erosion" of incomes since the recession began.

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What's more, financing has been hard to get especially with those with "acceptable" to "good" credit. Loans decreased 37 percent for those with credit scores between 660 and 720.

As a result, rentals have surged, but they are getting harder to find — and more expensive to land.

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Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at

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