A recent report by the National Association of Realtors identifies homeownership’s numerous social benefits. The report, “Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing,” cites extensive research showing that homeownership increases civic participation, lowers crime rates and boosts children’s educational performance.
Homeowners have a far lower move rate compared with renters. Nearly 30% of renters changed residential locations in 2008 to 2009, while only 5.2% of owner-occupied residents moved. Because homeowners remain in their homes longer, they add stability to their neighborhoods.
Homeowners have an incentive to improve the overall quality of their surrounding community. This incentive is evident in greater community involvement and awareness. Homeowners are twice as likely than renters to know the name of their local school board representative. One study found that 77% of homeowners voted in local elections compared with 52% of renters. Homeowners also had a higher incidence of membership in voluntary organizations.
Homeowners are more likely than renters to form voluntary crime prevention programs, making it easier to identify a perpetrator of crime. Crime, drug use and juvenile delinquency rates all decrease in stable neighborhoods with extensive social ties. Consequently, homeowners are far less likely to become crime victims.
Homeownership makes a significant positive impact on educational achievement. According to the “Journal of Urban Economics,” teenage students of homeowners have a greater likelihood of graduating and young children of homeowners tend to have higher levels of achievement in math and reading. The positive effects on education may arise not from homeownership alone but from the combined social benefits of homeownership, namely a lower move rate, greater neighborhood stability, enhanced social ties and increased civic participation.
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