A Place Called Home: The Social Dimensions of Homeownership

A Place Called HomeRoberto Quercia, director of UNC’s Center for Community Capital (CCC), and former CCC Researchers Kim Manturuk and Mark R. Lindblad recently authored A Place Called Home, the first book fully dedicated to a rich, rigorous analysis of the social impacts and non-financial effects of affordable homeownership.

Published by Oxford University Press in October 2017, A Place Called Home argues that homeownership is not only important for financial reasons, but also functions as a social tool that can improve the lives of low- and moderate-income people.

Since the onset of the mortgage lending crisis and the subsequent Great Recession, there has been ongoing debate about the economic benefits of homeownership. Some say homeownership remains an important contributor to wealth creation, while others believe that renting is a less expensive and less risky option. This debate has raised an interesting question about homeownership: if the home is not guaranteed to provide a solid return on investment, is there a rationale for promoting homeownership beyond whatever financial benefits it may deliver?

The dataset used in this study comes from a long-term examination of the Ford Foundation-funded Community Advantage Program, an initiative to provide a secondary market outlet for Community Reinvestment Act loans. On an annual basis, the study collected unique household-level information that allowed the authors to measure the social dimensions of homeownership on low-income families. A result was the observation that homeowners, when compared with renters, have: better health outcomes; experience less stress in times of financial hardship; experience a greater sense of trust in their neighbors; have access to more social capital resources; and are more likely to vote.

A Place Called Home argues that homeownership is not only important for financial reasons, but also functions as a social tool that can improve the lives of low- and moderate-income people.

CURS Researchers Speak at Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Conference 

Michael Webb, Ph.D.

Michael Webb, Ph.D.

Denver, Colorado was the site of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Conference from October 12-15, 2017. Among the many presenters from UNC-Chapel Hill were Center for Urban and Regional Studies Researchers Michael Webb, Ph.D., and Kirstin Frescoln, Ph.D.

Webb’s presentation, titled “Policy Mobilities and Mutations in the Moving to Work Demonstration,” was based on research conducted for The MTW GuideMoving to Work (MTW) allows participating housing authorities the flexibility to waive certain U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations and implement alternative program designs. For instance, some agencies have implemented a work requirement (which are normally prohibited), while others have modified rent calculations for their tenants (public housing residents typically pay 30% of their income as rent).

Despite wide latitude to implement a variety of programs, though, most Moving to Work agencies have implemented very similar activities. Webb’s presentation argued that housing agencies are responding to the same pressures—such as funding cuts, long waitlists and lack of access to high-opportunity neighborhoods for Section 8 residents—and, as a result, their programs look very similar. Staff at Moving to Work agencies are also very interested in seeing the program succeed, and are willing to share best practices with other agencies. Ultimately, sharing policies between agencies may be a good thing, as previously-implemented policies are already tested, have policy language already drafted and implementation issues identified and possibly addressed.

Kirstin Frescoln, Ph.D.

Kirstin Frescoln, Ph.D.

Frescoln’s presentation, titled “Public Housing’s Self-Sufficiency Mandate,” explored the history of self-sufficiency interventions undertaken by public housing agencies (PHAs). In particular, her research sought to understand: 1) Why policy makers established a self-sufficiency mandate within public housing; 2) The relative strengths and challenges of PHAs assuming this role; and 3) Whether this is an appropriate role for a PHA?

In response to public discourse, shifting demographics and changes in PHA funding, housing agencies began experimenting with direct self-sufficiency interventions as early as 1961. While the 1961 Concerted Services project was not deemed successful, Congress established a series of pilot initiatives in the 1980s including Project Self-Sufficiency and Operation Bootstrap that culminated in the Family Self-Sufficiency program in 1990. Other programs have included Community Supportive Services (part of HOPE VI), Resident Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency, Jobs-Plus and various self-sufficiency initiatives launched by Moving to Work.

There are many good reasons for PHAs to engage in self-sufficiency programming; chief among them is the clear identification of a population of need. PHAs can leverage physical co-location and multiple funding streams to directly deliver high-quality programming. The greatest challenges have been lack of capacity within the PHAs, insufficient on-going program evaluation and improvement, poor data collection, and the absence of evidence-based practices to effectively increase economic mobility

Recommendations include providing PHAs with training and technical assistance to more effectively implement existing interventions and HUD funding to support data collection and evaluation of the self-sufficiency programs. Current initiatives to test and evaluate Jobs Plus, Moving to Work and other self-sufficiency policies such as work requirements may lead to the first evidence-based self-sufficiency interventions within public housing.

 

BBC World Service talks to UNC’s Yan Song about “Beijing’s Big Plan”

Xiong’an, a small rural town in China, is set to become a city of 5 million people over the next decade. That’s the government’s plan at least. But could the whole thing end up as an expensive white elephant?

Ed Butler visits the site of this mega project two hours south of Beijing to discover some excited locals and a rather poorly attended fashion show. Could this bucolic setting become the next Shenzhen or Pudong? We hear some scepticism from Yan Song, professor, UNC Department of City and Regional Planning at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and from economist Michael Pettis of the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3cstx0q

Caregiving Kids: researching children as providers of family caregiving

Elizabeth Olson

The UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies presents:

A Brown Bag Lunch Seminar by Elizabeth Olson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Geography & Global Studies,
UNC-Chapel Hill and Spring 2017 CURS
Scholar-in-Residence

Reading Room, New East 211 | Friday, September 29, 2017, 12:30-1:45 PM
Beverages and light dessert provided

A 2004 national survey found that approximately 1.3 million people under the age of 18 in the U.S. are providing care for parents, siblings, grandparents or other family members with chronic medical conditions, disability or age-related illness. However, young people are not recognized as caregivers in federal or local legislation, and the many impacts of caregiving are largely unfamiliar to U.S. educators, social workers and other service providers. Dr. Olson will present an overview of global and U.S. research on children who provide caregiving support for family members, and explain some of the diverse networks that support research and practice to benefit youth caregiving families in North Carolina.

The Impacts of Individual Development Accounts, Assets, and Debt on Future Orientation and Psychological Depression

Journal of Policy PracticeIn an article published in the Journal of Policy Practice, William Rohe, Clinton Key, Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Mark Schreiner and Michael Sherraden analyze data from a randomized controlled experiment involving 1,103 applicants to an Individual development accounts (IDA) program.

IDAs have been adopted in communities across the United States as a way of helping lower-income individuals accrue financial assets. These programs match the savings of program participants if they invest them in the purchase of a home, the creation or expansion of a business, or additional education.

Beyond the financial benefits of holding assets, scholars have argued that they should also result in psychological benefits such as enhanced future orientations and decreased depression. This study tests this argument. The findings show that assignment to the IDA program was not associated with either future orientation or depression 10 years later. The value of assets held at that time, however, was found to be negatively associated with depression. In addition, self-reported financial stress was found to be negatively associated with future orientation and positively associated with depression.

William M. Rohe is director of the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor in the department of city and regional planning at UNC-Chapel Hill. Clinton Key is a researcher with the Pew Charitable Trusts. Michal Grinstein-Weiss is a professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis. Mark Schreiner is a senior scholar in the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis and also director of Microfinance Risk Management. Michael Sherraden is the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis.

Scaling Up a Place-Based Employment Program: Highlights From the Jobs Plus Pilot Program Evaluation

Scaling Up a Place-Based Employment Program: Highlights From the Jobs Plus Pilot Program EvaluationReleased on September 8, 2017 by the Office of Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Scaling Up a Place-Based Employment Program: Highlights From the Jobs Plus Pilot Program Evaluation was co-authored by the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies Director William M. Rohe and Researchers Kirstin Frescoln and Michael D. Webb.

The original Jobs Plus demonstration was launched in 1998. Of the six sites that were part of the demonstration, only three fully implemented the model. When fully implemented, the model increased tenants’ earned income by 16%. The Jobs Plus model was replicated in 2011 in San Antonio and the Bronx through the Social Innovation Fund (SIF).

HUD is now in the process of scaling up the Jobs Plus model. In April 2015, HUD announced the first cohort of Jobs Plus grant awards to nine sites. Scaling Up a Place-Based Employment Program: Highlights From the Jobs Plus Pilot Program Evaluation is an interim report evaluating the start-up of the nine grantees in the first cohort. These sites have implemented the model more quickly and fully than the original demonstration and the SIF replication sites. Within the first 18 months, all nine sites had begun structuring their programs, building partnerships and implementing the core components of the Jobs Plus model.

Jobs Plus

First-Time Homebuying: Attitudes and Behaviors of Low-Income Renters Through the Financial Crisis

Housing StudiesIn this article published in Housing Studies, Mark Lindblad, Hye-Sung Han, Siyun Yu and William M. Rohe use psychological theory to investigate how attitudes toward homebuying relate to first-time home purchases over the past decade.

Homeownership rates in the US have dropped to 20-year lows, but whether views toward homebuying shifted due to the financial crisis is not known because studies have not compared attitudes for the same respondents pre- and post-crisis. The authors address this gap with 2004–2014 panel data from low-income renters. They found that a negative shift in homebuying attitudes is associated with a decline in first-time home purchases. Older renters aged more than 35 years at baseline report the greatest declines in homebuying intentions. Younger renters aged 18–34 also report diminished homebuying intentions, yet express highest overall levels of homebuying intentions pre- and post-crisis. Blacks report greater homebuying intentions although their odds of home purchase are 29 percent lower than whites. Homebuying norms and favorability are associated with homebuying intentions but not with actual purchases, while perceived control over homebuying influences both outcomes.

Mark Lindblad is a research fellow at the UNC Center for Community Capital. Hye-Sung Han is an assistant professor in urban affairs at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (and a Ph.D. graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill). Siyun Yu was awarded her Ph.D. in statistics and operations research at UNC-Chapel Hill in May 2017. William M. Rohe is director of the UNC Center for Urban and Regional Studies and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor in the department of city and regional planning at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Summer 2017 Newsletter

Community Histories Workshop Joins CURS; Post-Disaster Recovery Plans after China’s Wenchuan Earthquake; Bike&Place – A New Modeling Tool to Help Planners Help Cyclists; Tackling the Housing Affordability Crisis; Chinese Cities and the Use of Urban Planning to Help Control Air Quality; and News from the Center. Read about research on these subjects and more here!

Community Histories Workshop Joins CURS

Kessell History Center, Loray Mill, Gastonia, NC

Kessell History Center, Loray Mill, Gastonia, NC. Photo courtesy CHW.

The Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) is pleased to announce a new partnership with The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Community Histories Workshop (CHW). CURS looks forward to expanding its support of the humanities by assisting CHW in capturing and archiving community histories. These histories can be key components of economic and community development efforts, such as the adaptive reuse of historic sites.

Launched in July 2016 and led by Robert Allen, faculty director and the James Logan Godfrey Distinguished Professor of American Studies, and Elijah Gaddis, co-founder and assistant director, CHW is dedicated to developing and testing innovative models for community engaged digital public history and humanities that benefit local communities across the state and region. In the process, this work contributes to the University’s commitment to engaged scholarship, to the reinvention of graduate training and to the integration of digital approaches and materials in undergraduate teaching and research. An outgrowth of the Digital Innovation Lab, CHW will extend and broaden its the public digital humanities work as a new program of the CURS. CHW formally joined CURS on July 1, 2017.


About the Community Histories Workshop (CHW)

CHWThe seeds for the CHW were planted when Allen served as co-principal investigator for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative (2012-2014) and as the founding director of the Digital Innovation Lab (2011-2016). His collaborative project with Wilson Library, Going to the Show, launched in 2009, documents and illuminates the experience of movies and movie-going in North Carolina from the introduction of projected motion pictures (1896) to the end of the silent film era (circa 1930). Through its innovative use of more than 750 Sanborn® Fire Insurance maps of forty-five towns and cities between 1896 and 1922, the project situates early movie-going within the experience of urban life in the state’s big cities and small towns. The project won the American Historical Association’s Rosenzweig Prize for Innovation in Digital History in 2010.

Gaddis, assistant professor of history at Auburn University, is the first graduate of the UNC American Studies Ph.D. program, and a recipient of the 2017 Graduate Education Advancement Board Impact Award. CHW offers opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students to gain valuable experience in digital public humanities through its graduate and undergraduate research fellowship program.

The mission of CHW aligns with the UNC-Chapel Hill’s recently launched “Humanities for the Public Good” initiative, funded by a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The announcement of the program singled out the work of the Digital Innovation Lab (DIL) and CHW as models of public humanities:

Past efforts at Carolina include the creation of one of the most ambitious public humanities projects in the University’s history — Digital Loray — an onsite and online history center that documents the story of the Loray textile mill in Gastonia, NC. UNC’s new Community Histories Workshop furthers this type of innovative work, benefiting the state and the region. The Mellon funding will allow the University to support the development of new and expanded digital humanities projects that align with the goals of “Humanities for the Public Good.”

Collaboration within UNC-Chapel Hill and partnerships with external organizations are hallmarks of CHW’s approach. CHW is partnering with the UNC Southern Historical Collection on several community-based projects, and OASIS (Office of Arts and Sciences Technology Services) is working with CHW to develop a software platform for collaborative community history and archiving projects.

A signature focus of CHW is the intersection between the adaptive reuse of iconic historical sites and community history and archiving initiatives, connecting the site’s future with its past. Its approach grows out of the three-year collaboration between Allen and Gaddis on the DIL’s Digital Loray project. Working with the property developer, Preservation NC, the Gaston County Museum of Art and History, and local volunteers, the DIL made the preservation and repurposing of one of the largest cotton mills in the South, Gastonia’s Loray/Firestone Mill, a catalyst for an open-ended community history initiative. This included: the location of a postdoctoral fellow as the University’s “public historian in residence” at the mill; the planning and implementation of the Alfred C. Kessell History Center at the site; and the creation of a digital archive of more than 2,500 photographs, maps and other historical materials.

This project led directly to CHW’s next “long-tail” public humanities initiative grounded in a major adaptive reuse development: Capital Broadcasting’s redevelopment of the Rocky Mount Mills property, site of the second oldest and longest operating cotton mill in the state (1818-1996). The history of the mill is intertwined with that of UNC-Chapel Hill: the Battle family, which owned and operated the mill for the better part of two hundred years, also included Kemp Plummer Battle, president of the university from 1876 to 1891, in addition to many other family members who attended UNC. The papers of the mill, and of the Battle family, are held by the UNC Southern Historical Collection.

Exploring Digital Rocky Mount Mills at the Feb. 2017 History Harvest

Exploring Digital Rocky Mount Mills at the Feb. 2017 History Harvest. Photo courtesy CHW.

Funded by a grant from Capital Broadcasting, CHW’s first project, Closing Stories, gave former workers in the mill an opportunity to share and preserve stories of the last decade of the mill’s operation through twenty-three short-form oral history interviews — at a time when a significant number of African Americans entered the textile workforce for the first time. A February 2017 History Harvest attracted community members to the Braswell Memorial Library to have photographs, home movies and other memorabilia of the mill and mill life scanned and added to the Digital Rocky Mount Mills archive.

The next phase of the Rocky Mount Mills project will unfold over the next eighteen months. It will include development of K-12 learning units produced by local teachers through a collaboration with Carolina K-12, a unit of Carolina Public Humanities. The mill was operated by slaves from 1818 to 1852. A collaboration with the Southern Historical Collection will test software tools for slave genealogy, using Battle family slaves as the test case.