Homeownership is the gateway to economic security and enables families to build inter-generational wealth. It has been the primary avenue for families to build wealth in the United States and homeownership helped create the great middle class that emerged in the early 1940s. Positive outcomes stemming from homeownership include improved health, increased child educational performance and attainment, and building equity to invest in childrens education, business or saving for retirement. Finally, increased homeownership benefits the greater community (stabilized neighborhoods and increased community participation), business community (more spending on household
appliances and furnishings) and government (more tax revenue and increased civic participation).
Listed below are a few Frequently Asked Questions on homeownership and the role it plays in building wealth, equity and improving health.
The education and income gaps are inextricably linked and important contributing solutions to wealth but homeownership is the primary driver of wealth accumulation. Homeownership allows families to invest in their childrens education, which can lead to their children’s higher wages and attaining homeownership and wealth. Higher priced homes force families to rent housing and not accumulate wealth and enjoy homeownership benefits.
The best example of a successful effort to increase wealth through homeownership in the U.S. took place after the devastating poverty caused by the 1929 stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression. The U.S. developed several agencies, including the Federal Home Loan Bank Act, the Home Ownership Corporation (HOLC) of 1933, and the Federal Housing Agency (FHA) of 1934 to help farmers keep their farms and build and finance home buying. The creation of Fannie Mae in 1938 and the Veterans Administration (VA) loan program of 1945 also contributed to an increase in white middle-income homeownership. Unfortunately, families of color were legally discriminated against and excluded from benefitting from these U.S. programs due to a system called redlining.
Homeownership has been proven to have a positive impact on health outcomes, self-esteem, and mortality rates. A study conducted by The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health assessed the relationship between homeownership in Black neighborhoods and disability and mortality rates. This study found that Black neighborhoods generally tend to have high rates of disability and mortality, yet within those same neighborhoods, homeownership was positively associated with reduced rates of mortality. The study exemplifies how homeownership can have positive health outcomes, and it illustrates the importance of providing people of color access and opportunities to become homeowners.
Our primary goals are to abate poverty and close the racial wealth gap through homeownership. Nearly all housing organizations have succeeded in advocating for and building affordable multi-family rentals, rural housing, and shelter for people experiencing homelessness. While we fully support these efforts, we recognize that most families are not building equity. We advocate for homeownership as an economic justice right and advocate to eliminate California regulations and laws that increase the cost of housing and thereby discriminates against communities of color.
There is a specific cycle of events that leads to the kind of civil unrest we are experiencing today. People of color in the US are denied access or have limited access to some of the most basic human rights such as healthcare, education, and housing. The kind of despair, hopelessness, and intergenerational trauma that results from constantly being denied access to basic human rights serves as the fuel for civil unrest, and unjustified police action serves as the spark that leads to protests, riots, and community action. It is deeply important that this cycle be broken for the well being of future generations of people of color, and for this country. Most measures of quality of life go back to one key factor “ housing. We believe that the route to breaking this cycle is through homeownership for people of color.