Perceived Barriers of HUD Heads of Household to Home Ownership, with Implications for Federal Housing and Employment Policy

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INTRODUCTION

Home ownership can be considered an American dream. In addition to serving as shelter, owner-occupied housing is a representation of the amount of wealth and success that the household has accumulated, provides a measure of the household's status in the community, exemplifies middle class values, and can lead to greater opportunities (Koebel & Zappettini, 1993, p. 36). According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) Urban Policy Brief No. 2: Home ownership and its Benefits (1995), a preponderance of evidence confirms that many of the benefits commonly associated with Home ownership are valid, including assertions that it 1) increases personal wealth; 2) enhances personal well-being; 3) creates stronger neighborhoods; and 4) promotes economic growth.

Unfortunately, the possibility of owning a home is slipping away from many Americans. This can be at least partially attributed to higher housing costs. Using data from several sources, including the Current Population Survey and the American Housing Survey, Koebel et al. (1993) determined that with the exception of those aged 65 or above, the Home ownership rate had decreased between 1974 and 1989.

This study focused on perceived barriers to home ownership among public housing residents, most of whom were female heads of household. Information gleaned from the study will be used to recommend ways to help alleviate barriers to, and facilitate home ownership among the study population.

The purpose of the study was to determine perceived barriers to home ownership and strength of these barriers among public housing residents of the Pine Chapel section of the City of Hampton. Pine Chapel operates under the Hampton Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which is partially funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The target population for the study consisted of Pine Chapel public housing residents who attended monthly meetings in their neighborhood community center. The residents were requested to complete survey questionnaires.

One of the major objectives of the study was to develop a list of perceived barriers to home ownership among the target population under study. A second objective was to develop a list of rankings on perceived barriers to purchasing a home and secondly, to determine whether age and number of dependents of the heads of household influenced the perception of barriers to home ownership. A third objective was to determine if the time horizon for plans to purchase a home varied according to age of the heads of household. A final objective was to perform additional analyses upon the data, contingent upon the results of the study.

LITERATURE REVIEW

This section of the report will focus on literature pertaining to characteristics of HUD assisted renters, particularly those in public housing projects. It will also cover research on their aspirations and reasons for purchasing a home.

Throughout this paper, the focus will be on the "householder," or more specifically, the person or people in whose name the public housing is held (Casey, 1992). According to research conducted by Casey (1992) on characteristics of HUD Assisted Renters, African Americans are served at a higher rate in HUD assisted housing than their share of eligible applicants, whereas white householders are served at a lower rate. The researcher reported that the greatest proportion of public housing householders are in the 35 to 64 years age group, with age 56 being the median. In addition, 56 percent of these householders did not complete high school. Marriage appears to have an influence on entry into public housing under HUD in that those who are married are less likely to be served. In 1989, only 13 percent of assistant assisted households under HUD consisted of married couples. There is a tendency for these households to be headed by women (72 percent), in comparison to their proportion in the income eligible population (61 percent). …