Best Areas in the U.S. for Immigrant Homeownership

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Gateway cities for immigration during the twentieth century traditionally have been New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Raleigh-Durham. However, settlement patterns in 2014 for new immigrants additionally favor Georgia and North Carolina.  Dowell Myers and John Pitkin’s 2010 article “Assimilation Today: New Evidence Shows the Latest Immigrants to America Are Following in Our History’s Footsteps” was prepared for the Center for American Progress report. It notes that immigrant homeownership was highest in Texas, California, Florida, Illinois, Arizona, and Georgia.

Phoenix, Arizona

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Appreciative of immigrants’ contributions to the U.S. heritage and economic stability, Jon Huntsman’s article in The Washington Post suggests that more immigration could revive the ailing real estate market in the U.S.  In apparent agreement is Megan Hopkins.  In her article of April, 2013 “Influence of New Immigrants Evident in US Housing Markets” in Housing Wire, Hopkins indicates that “immigrants totaled nearly 36% of homeownership growth between 2000 and 2010, [as] Financial Times reported.”  Hopkins contends that in the six “Gateway States” including California and New York, “immigrants will account for more than 50% of the rise in home buying by 2020, according to a report by the Research Institute for Housing and the Mortgage Bankers Association.”  Anticipating a trend not mentioned in Hopkins’ findings, The Brookings Institution reported in 2004 that “By 2000, more immigrants in metropolitan areas lived in suburbs than cities.”

Savanna, Georgia

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A report in “Immigrants Boost U.S. Economic Development through Housing Market” based on Professor of Public Policy and Economics at Duke University, Jacob Vigdor’s research finds that the “most pronounced impact of immigration on housing values was in the thriving Sun Belt cities that remain affordable and in declining Rust Belt cities where immigration acts a barrier against even greater declines in home values.” The Sun Belt is an area in the southern tier of the U.S. roughly south of the 36th parallel, north latitude.  The sector has twelve states that comprise a diverse range of desert, Mediterranean, and humid sub-tropical climates.

Miami, Florida

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Conversely, the Rust Belt region also known as the Industrial Heartland of the U.S. is a post-industrial region comprising mostly Northeastern and East North Central States with a focus in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The term Rust Belt refers to economic decline, population loss, and urban decay caused by loss of the previously powerful industrial sector.  However, by the 1980s, economic recovery began when major cities switched focus from manufacturing to service and other industries.

Detroit, Michigan

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U. S. Sun Belt and Rust Belt Regions

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An interactive map of the U.S. indicates immigration demographics, economics, and housing market trends as well as employment statistics (http://www.maptheimpact.org/).

In the 2014 article “Who’s Propping up the U.S. Housing Market?  Immigrants,” Andrew S. Ross contends that “Immigrants appear to have weathered the Great Recession-induced housing downturn better than native-born Americans.”  Economists’ findings at Rutgers University and Georgia Tech confirm Ross’ contention and predict that the housing trend will continue through 2020.  Significantly, Ross surmises that immigrants actually value home-ownership as integral to establishing multigenerational communities and realizing the American Dream rather than viewing housing as a mere commodity to be re-sold for financial profit.

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By 2014 it is apparent that prospects for immigrant homeownership are encouraging in both Sun Belt and Rust Belt regions of the U.S. with projected trends increasing through 2020. As noted previously, The Brookings Institution reported in 2004 that “By 2000, more immigrants in metropolitan areas lived in suburbs than cities.”  The ten top U.S. suburbs ranked most friendly for raising a family according to Kiplinger’s Personal Financial magazine in 2010 were Troy, Michigan; Boulder City, Nevada; Allen, Texas; Upper Arlington, Ohio; Marion, Iowa; West Hartford, Connecticut; Madison, Alabama; Rio Rancho, New Mexico; Suwanee, Georgia; and Morton, Illinois.

  Residential/Business Zone in West Haven, Connecticut

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Currently in 2014, job growth, infrastructure, and ready access to metropolitan facilities as well as property values and relative costs of homeownership determine which suburbs listed among the top ten family-friendly suburbs in 2010 may remain on the list through 2020.  Nonetheless, whether the U.S. censuses’ anticipated percentage of immigrant homeownership continues proportionately to increase through 2020 will depend not exclusively on mundane statistics and metrics.  The reality of future immigrant homeownership patterns will also reflect variables such as ease of establishing a sense of community and (re)claiming cultural identity in tension with a potential desire for assimilation into the mainstream U.S. culture.

Honor Vallor
Honor emigrated from England to the United States in the nineteen sixties. She has visited and lived in several countries including the British Isles, Spain, and Morocco. She has an M.A. in English from Portland State University and is a career educator as well as contracted writer. She serves on several academic committees including the Professional Ethics Committee for the Marylhurst University Chapter of the Association of American University Professors. In addition, she offers workshops for non-profit centers and public libraries.

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