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Houston’s Immigrants Highlighted in ULI Study: Some Immigrant Groups Outpacing Native-Born Population in Home Ownership

HOUSTON — (By Dale King) – The housing and neighborhood location choices of immigrants will have a significant impact on urban growth in the US for decades to come, particularly as more foreign-born residents seek to own homes in suburban communities, says new research from the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing.

The data are contained in a report called “Home in America: Immigrants and Housing Demand.”

ULI’s examination of five major population centers – Houston, along with San Francisco, Buffalo, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Charlotte – found that “immigrants have helped stabilize and strengthen the housing market throughout the recovery [from the 2008 recession],” said Terwilliger Center Executive Director Stockton Williams.

“Immigrants’ home purchasing power and preferences are significant economic assets for metropolitan regions across the country. This suggests the potential for much more growth attributable to foreign-born residents in the years ahead,” he added.

The report found that the differences in where immigrants are locating is an indicator of how they could influence future growth within these markets. In San Francisco, immigrants are spread across nearly all types of suburban communities, with the highest percentage, 35 percent, living in economically challenged neighborhoods.

In Houston, the largest share of immigrants, 39 percent, live in stable, middle-income suburbs, followed by 29 percent in economically challenged suburbs.

The ULI report spotlights the Asian segment in Houston because many are outpacing native-born Americans on the socio-economic chart. A greater percentage of Asians are homeowners, 65 percent compared to 62 percent of native-born households.

Thirty percent of foreign-born Buffalo residents live in established high-end suburbs — a greater share than the native-born population, in fact, and 27 percent live in urban neighborhoods.

In Minneapolis, the largest number, 32 percent, live in economically challenged suburbs, followed by 27 percent in stable middle-income suburbs. In Charlotte, 27 percent live in economically challenged suburbs. Nineteen percent live in stable-income suburbs and an additional 19 percent live in established high-end suburbs.

The ULI document says Houston population is diverse. About 1.5 million people – nearly 25 percent of the city’s population of 6.5 million – are immigrants. Between 2006 and 2014, the Houston metro population increased by 17.1 percent as the city added 950,000 residents from other countries.

The largest immigrant group in Houston is from Mexico – nearly 600,000 people or 42 percent of foreign-born residents, ULI said. Eight percent are from El Salvador, and about a quarter of the immigrant population is Asian, arriving from various countries. The most, 5 percent, are from Vietnam.

Houston is also becoming home to more immigrants from China and India but immigration from Mexico continues to dominate.

Some other key points of the report:

  • Immigrants have strong aspirations for single-family homeownership, and homeownership rates for immigrants rise with their length of time in the US.
  • Immigrants seeking to own homes as well as those renting homes are increasingly drawn to the suburbs in search of employment opportunities, lower-cost housing and a higher quality of life.
  • While immigrants represent a key source of demand for new housing, a substantial share of immigrant housing demand will be met through purchases of existing homes.
  • Urban areas experiencing significant immigrant population growth should explore how to best accommodate immigrants and leverage the positive effect they have on the housing industry and economy.
  • Just as housing demand by immigrants was a key factor in tempering the worst impacts of the housing collapse, this demand is now helping to build housing market momentum.

“Home in America: Immigrants and Housing Demand” points out that the presence of immigrants could help boost revitalization in economically challenged suburbs; sustain the success of stable middle-income suburbs and contribute to the growth and diversity of established high-end suburbs. The study says America is doing well by having so many people cross the border – legally, that is – to stake their futures on American soil.

“If recent shifts in immigration flows continue, an increase in higher-income immigrants – including rising numbers from China and India – could accelerate the demand for homeownership among the foreign-born population,” the report says. “Without sustained immigration, the housing market could weaken and in many markets the impact could be dramatic.”

The Urban Land Institute is a nonprofit education and research institute whose mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide.

April 25, 2017 Realty News Report Copyright 2017

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