UNC study: homeownership helps stabilize low-income neighborhoods

by 29 Mar 2012

(UNC) -- Chapel Hill, N.C. – A new study  by researchers at the UNC Center for Community Capital finds a clear link  between homeownership in low-income neighborhoods and how residents perceive  the level of crime in their communities. Those perceptions are important  because they affect residents’ mental and physical health as well as the steps  they will take to protect and secure their communities, a key factor in  reducing crime.

The  study compares the perceptions of homeowners with renters while controlling for  other explanations to demonstrate that, in fact, it is homeownership that makes  a difference. These findings support earlier research that shows homeownership  offers a wide range of social and economic benefits for low-income communities.

Results of the study will soon be  published in the American Journal of  Community Psychology in an article titled “Sense  of Community and Informal Social Control Among Lower-Income Households: The  Role of Homeownership and Collective Efficacy in Reducing Subjective  Neighborhood Crime and Disorder.”

“The  housing downturn and foreclosure crisis have raised questions about the role of  homeownership in stabilizing low-income communities,” said center research  director Mark R. Lindblad, who co-authored the study with director Roberto G.  Quercia and Kim R. Manturuk, senior research associate in financial services. “Our findings demonstrate that, when coupled with sustainable  mortgages, homeownership reduces residents’ perception of crime as a key  problem for their community.”

Researchers  interviewed nearly 2,000 low-income homeowners and renters for the study. The  homeowners had obtained mortgages under an affordable home lending program, the  Community Advantage Program, which offers traditional, 30-year, fixed-rate  loans with predictable terms and sound underwriting.

The  study is the latest in a series of studies center researchers have undertaken  to identify the social and economic impacts of homeownership. These studies  aims to inform policies that promote homeownership as a strategy for revitalizing  low-income neighborhoods and helping low-income households build wealth.

The UNC Center for Community Capital  is the leading center for research and policy analysis on the transformative  power of capital on households and communities in the United States. Part of  the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel  Hill, the center offers data and analysis that helps policymakers, advocates  and the private sector find sustainable ways to expand economic opportunity to  more people more effectively. For more information, visit www.ccc.unc.edu or call (919) 843-2140.

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