What is Homeownership & Why do we care?
Homeownership entails more than just owning a home. Many people underestimate the social importance of homeownership. Owning a home often signifies wealth, social standing, and overall wellness. Hartford has struggled immensely with faltering homeownership rates, especially since the 1950s and 1960s.
In regards to wealth, we examined the Hartford metropolitan region’s past and present economic facets. We chose to focus on price to income ratios because, as Lisa Rice (Executive Vice President of the National Fair Housing Alliance) stated, “wealth and financial stability are inextricably linked to housing opportunity and homeownership.” She continued to say, “For a typical family, the largest share of their wealth emanates from homeownership and home equity.” We care about the issue of homeownership because, as will be seen, homeownership is the cornerstone of 21st century social capital and prestige.
Basic History: Hartford & Its Suburbs
Hartford’s homeownership rate has gone down in recent decades. The migration of wealthier residents to the suburbs during the second half of the 20th century caused Hartford’s tax base to decline. The homeownership rate for West Hartford has gone up since the 1940s, while the homeownership rate in Hartford has stayed relatively similar between 1940 and 2016.
Clear Patterns: Homeownership, Jobs, & Wealth
For Hartford, homeownership also indicates jobs. Insurance companies with headquarters or huge offices in Hartford or its suburbs (The Hartford, Aetna, Travelers, Cigna) provide tens of thousands of jobs for residents of the region. Having these well-established Fortune 500 companies in the region has created pockets of massive wealth in the suburbs. The geographic patterns of this wealth often correspond with high rates of homeownership in the region.
Development within Hartford in recent years has been geared mostly towards apartments in the downtown area, not on promoting homeownership throughout the entire city. An extremely low homeownership rate deters developers from creating or renovating condos and run-down properties in the city. This turns into a self-defeating cycle in which no one is willing, due to fear of short term political or profit loss, to take the necessary steps to fix the issue. In the end, someone needs to act in order to end this cycle. Providing the statistical basis for that action is our goal for this project.
*Interactive maps courtesy of Social Explorer
*Article quoting Lisa Rice can be found at: https://www.revealnews.org/article/for-people-of-color-banks-are-shutting-the-door-to-homeownership/