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Chapel Hill, N.C. – A new study by researchers at the UNC Center for Community Capital finds a clear link between homeownership and how low-income families perceive crime in their neighborhoods. Not only does homeownership lead residents to take steps to protect and secure their neighborhoods thereby reducing crime levels, those perceptions are also important because they affect residents’ mental and physical health as well.

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

Results of the study are being published this week 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 traditional, fixed-rate mortgages, homeownership reduces residents’ perception of crime as a key problem in their neighborhood.”

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 or call (919) 843-2140.

Topics(s): Affordable Homeownership, Mortgage Finance
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