(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.