Owning your own home -- it's the American dream. Actually, it's only been the American dream since about 1934, when the Federal Housing Administration was created. At the time, only 40 percent of Americans owned their own homes; most people were renters. It was difficult to buy a house back then, as mortgage loan terms were expensive and repressive. So few people dreamed of it. But the creation of the FHA helped millions of folks become first-time homebuyers, a role it's played ever since [source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development].
Since then, the U.S. government has encouraged homeownership through its many home-loan programs, touting it as a way to improve one's future prosperity and noting it fosters better citizenship, among other reasons [source: Glaeser]. Today, many argue it's not necessary, or even desirable, to create a nation filled with nothing but homeowners. If a person can't handle the associated costs such as property taxes, insurance and repairs, it may not be a good idea to buy. Still, most Americans clearly think it's preferable. As of the third quarter of 2014, a full 64.4 percent of Americans owned their own home [source: Callis and Kresin].
If you've been longing for a place of your own, but never seem to be able to swing it, don't give up. There are a wide variety of programs in place, both public and private, that exist to help people purchase their first home. Here are five of them.