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Publication Date

May 2012


Allison Freeman, Janneke Ratcliffe


Ford Foundation

Center researchers draw on a long-term study of low-income homeowners to demonstrate that affordable homeownership is a key pathway for lower-income householders to build wealth long-term.

In his 1991 groundbreaking work, Assets and the Poor: A New American Welfare Policy, Michael Sherraden permanently shifted the discussion about welfare policy in the United States. Sherraden argued for a focus on the promotion of savings and wealth-generation rather than the then current emphasis on income and consumption. He advanced the use of individual development accounts (IDAs) to push welfare policy beyond addressing immediate needs, and instead to the support of long-term economic  mobility for lower-income households. Sherraden’s groundbreaking work argued that low-resource households can build financial security if given access to the proper tools and systems.

This paper takes as its central focus one of the constituent elements of economic mobility that Sherraden proposed IDAs should enable: homeownership. Our position is that affordable, sustainable homeownership is one of the surest ways to help lower-income households build long-term wealth.

Topics(s): Affordable Homeownership, Financial Inclusion, Housing Policy, Impacts of Homeownership, Mortgage Finance, Savings & Asset-Building