The American Dream is owning your own home. We heard that so many times in the past decade! Remember that? That was before the recession and all. Now, a brutal landmark: all the past decade's home ownership gains are gone.

From 2000-2007, America pursued a very deliberate plan of increasing home ownership. That was the housing boom. Then, the bubble popped. And now: we've officially passed the point at which it's safe to say, "That whole housing boom might as well have never happened at all."

In the fourth quarter of 2010, 66.5% of Americans owned homes, down from 67.2% a year earlier and the lowest rate since the end of 1998, according the Census Bureau. During the boom, when easy credit made mortgages available with less regard for income or ability to pay, the ownership rate surged to a record 69.2% in 2004's second and fourth quarters and stayed near that level until the recession deepened.

The home ownership rate rose 0.8% during the boom; since then, it's fallen by 1.3%. And it's still falling! It could be worse, white Americans: the rate of ownership for black American households is only 44.8%

Every American should now dream of renting.

[WSJ. Photo: Adrian Jimenez]