The UNC Center for Community Capital has conducted a long-term study of the nearly 50,000 low- and moderate-income (LMI) and minority homeowners to identify specific lending practices and policies that enable or inhibit successful homeownership. Ultimately, the Community Advantage Program (CAP)—which also included low down payment loans paired with responsible underwriting—has resulted in sustainable homeownership. In fact, by 2012, families who became homeowners through CAP had gained, on average, nearly $22,000 in equity. This shows that responsible mortgages made a positive difference in building a stronger financial future for these low- and moderate-income families.


Project Overview

The UNC Center for Community Capital has conducted a long-term study of low- and moderate-income (LMI) and minority homeowners to identify specific lending practices that enable and inhibit successful homeownership. Their findings have yielded an extensive collection of reports that provide facts and recommendations policymakers, regulators and the housing finance industry use to safely expand homeownership opportunity in the United States.secondary-market-generic-flow-chart

The Community Advantage Program Study, launched in 1999, examines data collected since 2003 from homeowners who receive mortgages through the Community Advantage Program (CAP), a path-breaking mortgage initiative of Self-Help, the Ford Foundation, and Fannie Mae that has funded more than $4 billion of home loans to LMI borrowers.

Self-Help, a community development financial institution, teamed up with Ford Foundation and Fannie Mae to provide a secondary market for these affordable mortgage loans. Their goals were two-fold: to expand home lending to LMI households and to demonstrate the creditworthiness and market opportunity the households offer the mortgage industry. The study has provided a unique opportunity to examine the performance of an affordable mortgage program before, during, and after the one of the most turbulent periods in the nation’s housing history.


Access the Data

The Center for Community Capital will be releasing a de-identified, public use version of the Community Advantage Panel Survey (CAPS) in the spring of 2018. This survey, the basis of much of the Center’s research over the past decade, comprises 11 years of panel survey data provided by approximately 5,000 low- and moderate–income homeowners and renters during the period of 2003-2014. The Center has overseen CAPS data collection with generous funding from the Ford Foundation and currently serves as the CAPS data custodian.

Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for updates and details.


Key Findings

Key findings and recommendations are published in two book-length works based off of the Community Advantage Program. The first, Regaining the Dream: How to Renew the Promise of Homeownership for America’s Working Families (Brookings Institution Press, 2011), recounts the history of the U.S. housing finance system, which significantly expanded U.S. homeownership and helped build the American middle class but also excluded many Americans from accessing this key wealth-building tool. The second book, A Place Called Home: The Social Dimensions of Homeownership (Oxford University Press, 2017), is an analysis of the social impacts and non-financial effects of affordable homeownership.


Publications Based on the Community Advantage Program Study