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It’s June—Happy National Homeownership Month (Despite Challenges, Latinos Still Have Reason to Celebrate)

  ·  Juliana Gonzalez-Crussi

Latino homeownerHomeownership has long been synonymous with the “American Dream:” a means of building wealth and a tangible symbol of upward mobility, a sign that the best is yet to come. For many immigrants, Latino and otherwise, el sueño de la casa propia is also a symbol of full integration into life in the United States. As National Homeownership Month, June provides an opportunity to pause and reflect on how to support strong aspirations of homeownership in immigrant and Latino communities.

Still, Latinos and immigrants must overcome a unique set of hurdles to make their dreams of owning homes an attainable goal. The economic woes of the Great Recession exacerbate other challenges for homeownership in these communities, including:

  • Income: Immigrant households are less likely to be homeowners than native-born households given that a lower income and less initial wealth can limit access to homeownership.
  • Education: Homeownership is a function of both current and lifetime income. Education is a prime determinant of wages, and as a result, both lack of access and limited academic achievement mitigate homeownership rates amongst Latinos and immigrants. (In Illinois, while three-fourths of Latino students graduate from high school in four years, only 12 percent earn a bachelor’s degree, and less than 4 percent hold graduate or professional degrees.)
  • Credit: Latinos borrowers have a higher share of foreclosures and less access to credit. What’s more, Latinos and other communities of color received a  disproportionate share of abusive subprime mortgages before the real estate bubble burst—even after controlling for risk factors such as income and credit scores.

Despite obstacles, Illinois Latinos have accounted for more than half of the growth in the homeownership rate since 2000.  Surveys show that many Americans—especially Latinos—still aspire to be homeowners. And despite the economic downturn and depreciating home values, many Latinos still see buying a home as the best long-term investment. As Latinos are experiencing upward trends in  population growth, economic mobility and enrollment in higher education,  we can anticipate a larger pool of home-buying candidates.

Looking forward, it is critical to redesign financing systems to address the need for affordable homeownership and promote equal access to sustainable, affordable mortgages. The Latino Policy Forum is working to provide a Latino perspective in these discussions. Learn more about our work here

(PHOTO: Latina Lista/Creative Commons)

Posted In: Housing, Foreclosure, Affordable Housing

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