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Publication Date

April 2012


Kim R. Manturuk, Mark R. Lindblad, Roberto G. Quercia


Ford Foundation

A 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, those perceptions are also important because they affect residents’ mental and physical health as well.

UNC Center for Community Capital researchers examine the link between homeownership, collective efficacy and subjective neighborhood crime and disorder. Although prior research suggests that homeownership provides social benefits, the housing downturn and foreclosure crisis, coupled with mounting evidence that people self-select into housing, raise questions about the role of homeownership.

Researchers adjust for respondents’ decision to own or rent using a nationwide sample of lower-income households. They account for demographic and neighborhood characteristics as well as ratings of individual efficacy. They present a structural equation model that identifies how sense of community and informal social control jointly contribute to collective efficacy.

The latent collective efficacy construct mediates the impact of homeownership on resident’s perceptions of neighborhood disorder. Such perceptions matter because they have been linked to resident’s physical and mental health.

Study findings demonstrate that when coupled with sustainable mortgages, homeownership exerts a robust yet indirect effect in reducing subjective neighborhood crime and disorder. The center’s model also links collective efficacy to neighborhood racial homogeneity, a finding that presents challenges for the study of diversity and community.

Researchers discuss sense of community research as well as sustainable mortgages and implications of the foreclosure crisis for the future of homeownership opportunities among lower income households and neighborhoods.

This research is also detailed in the book-length work, A Place Called Home: The Social Dimensions of Homeownership (Oxford University Press, 2017), which is an analysis of the social impacts and non-financial effects of affordable homeownership.

Topics(s): Affordable Homeownership, Community Advantage Program, Impacts of Homeownership, Mortgage Finance, Other