By Edwin Henry, Former President
Florida Home Builders Association
Whether you own your own home or rent an apartment is clearly a personal decision based most often on your family, job or financial situation. But if you have a choice, there are now some well-documented reasons why owning your own home can mean positive benefits to your children, your neighborhood and your community.
Studies by researchers Richard Green at the University of Wisconsin/Madison and Michelle White of the University of Michigan indicate that children raised in owned homes are more likely to stay in school and teenage daughters from owned homes are less likely to become pregnant.
The Green-White study of 17-year-olds points out that up to five percent more children in owned homes will finish high school compared to their counterparts in rented environments. In addition, 11 percent of teenage girls living in owned homes will have a child compared to 13 percent living in rental homes.
Even more dramatic than the impact on children, home ownership is proven to produce more civic-minded citizens. According to a study by Denise DiPasquale and Edward Glaeser of Harvard University, homeowners are more likely to work with neighbors to improve their neighborhood, due in part to their desire to increase property values.
On the other hand, renters often have a disincentive to participate in civic improvements since they cannot capitalize on the higher property values and may in fact pay more rent for an enhanced living environment.
The research indicates that homeowners are more likely to support non-professional associations such as Parent-Teacher Organizations and Boys and Girls Scouts. Homeowners are more likely than renters (by nine percent) to know the name of their local school board head and 10 percent more likely to know their Congressman’s name. They are 15 percent more likely to vote in local elections and 10 percent more likely to attend church.
Owning a home requires discipline, planning and constant attention. People who become homeowners must either possess these qualities before buying or learn them after their purchase. There will always be exceptions, but these same characteristics of homeowners tend to be traits found in citizens who feel and demonstrate a commitment to making their community a better place to live.
That's one of the big reasons so many people in your community support the concept of home ownership and organizations such as Habitat for Humanity that rely on the work of volunteers to put people into homes of their own. It's also why your local Home Builders Association works diligently to promote and provide affordable housing.
"Quite often, a new home changes attitudes, brings people together and equips them for new and better opportunities in life," said Habitat founder Millard Fuller in his book, 'A Simple, Decent Place to Live'.
Former President Jimmy Carter, himself a supporter of Habitat for Humanity, says, "Drugs, crime, education, health care and dreams for the future don’t seem directly related to housing but we know they are."
Indeed, now we know.