Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Home Buyer Program Assists Hispanic Families in Northern Utah

Academic journal article Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences

Home Buyer Program Assists Hispanic Families in Northern Utah

Article excerpt

Abstract This article reports the benefits for Hispanic families of the First time Home Buyer Program in Cache County, Utah. The program's primary mission is to enable families to become homeowners. Of the 26 workshops thus far offered, five have been offered in Spanish to address the needs of Hispanic families when preparing to purchase a home; translators were on hand at each stage of the home buying process. Results of the program indicated Hispanic participants felt they had learned how to save money when buying a home and were more prepared to purchase a house. In addition, 25% of those who purchased a home as a result of the First Time Home Buyer Program were Hispanic.

"Being homeowners make us feel good. We are investing our money. When renting, we feel that we are throwing it away." For almost six years this Hispanic family has worked hard to buy a house in Cache County, Utah. They finally accomplished their goal after participating in an education program designed to assist individuals and their families in becoming home owners.

The First-Time Home Buyer Program in the Bear River District (which includes Cache, Rich, and Box Elder counties) was developed by Utah State University Extension and the Bear River Association of Governments. This article describes how this program has benefited Hispanic participants in Cache County. Before describing the program, the authors will review the literature on limitations for home ownership opportunities in Cache County.

Benefits of Owning a House

Although not stated as causal relationships, claims that home ownership is beneficial to both owners and society can be found in housing research. Those who own a home are more likely to participate in neighborhood associations and community improvement groups and have higher levels of life satisfaction when compared to renters (Rohe & Stegman, 1994b). This relationship between home ownership and neighborhood stability has been supported by several studies. Empirical evidence indicates homeowners are more likely than renters to participate in local organizations even after controlling for income, education, and other socioeconomic characteristics (Rohe & Steward, 1996).

The benefits of owning a home extend not only to the owners but also to their offspring.

Rossi and Weber's research (1996) cites a study by Green and White in 1994 in which four data sets to investigate whether children in home-owning households were more or less likely to drop out of high school, while holding income, race, and educational attainment of parents constant. The authors found the children of home-owning families were less likely to drop out, with the advantage ranging from 3% to 15% over non-homeowners (Rossi & Weber, 1996).

A correlation has also been found between homeowners and the rate of teenage pregnancy. Green and White (1994) found that teenagers of homeowning families had a lower pregnancy rate. Two of the data sets used by Green and White, High School and Beyond (HSB) and Boston Youth Study (BYS), revealed a 3% to 5% lower adolescent pregnancy rate for home-owning families.

However, the goal of home ownership for low- to moderate-income households is becoming more difficult to attain. There is increasing evidence that the gap between the cost of housing and household income has grown considerably. Many young couples, single parents, and moderate- and low-income households are paying more than 50% of their income for housing, leaving little money for food, clothing, and medical expenses. Many of these households are paying as much for rent as they could be paying for a mortgage (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1989).

Housing Costs in Cache County

Between 1992 and 1996, housing costs in Cache County have risen at phenomenal rates (Table 1). Concurrently, rental rates have been sharply increasing, consuming well over 30% of many household incomes. The availability of decent and affordable single-family homes has been diminishing while Cache County's population has grown almost 14% since 1990. …

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