Immigration and Labor: The Economic Aspects of European Immigration to the United States

By Isaac A. Hourwich | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
HOME OWNERSHIP

OWNERSHIP of homes by wage-earners has been advocated as a proposition of practical social reform, ever since the condition of labor has been recognized as a distinct social problem. The Immigration Commission has given prominent place in its investigation to home ownership among immigrant races on the ground that "the proportion of the families in a given group of workmen who live in homes owned by themselves may fairly be regarded as an indication, at least, of the social and industrial progress of the group."1

The Commission fully realizes "that the wage-earner is living and working in a large urban or industrial center where the acquisition of real estate is beyond his resources," while in small mining towns "the industrial worker is practically not permitted to buy a home, but must live in a house owned by the operating company."2 The mining companies find it "a better policy to retain the houses because of large profits arising from rent payments and for the additional reason that mine workers may be evicted in the event of a ltrike."3 Moreover, the ownership of a home, even when within the reach of wage-earner, often does not pay as an investment:

If an employee should invest in a home near his work and for any reason he should be thrown out of work, the property would not be valuable, because there are no other industries near in which he could

____________________
1
Reports of the Immigration Commission, vol. 7, p. 267.
2
Ibid., vol. 1, p. 467.
3
Ibid., vol. 6, p. 452.

-274-

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