We know we have to find ways to lower housing costs and to increase affordability of home ownership “Twenty-three per cent of people are spending more than half their income on rent, a level that leaves renters at risk of not being able to afford other basic living needs, said Tony Roy, the association’s executive director.Twenty-three per cent of people are spending more than half their income on rent, a level that leaves renters at risk of not being able to afford other basic living needs, said Tony Roy, the association’s executive director.”
Home Ownership good for social ties and has benefits to the community
Home ownership offers many benefits including those linked to stable residency and the social connectedness this results in. Social connectivity is defined as, “the measure of how people come together and interact. At an individual level, social connectedness involves the quality and number of connections one has with other people in a social circle of family, friends, and acquaintances”. (Quigley and Thornley, 2011)
The positive research about the benefits related to home ownership and social connectivity is listed first below, followed by studies showing concern about the growing level of disconnectedness in our society and the consequences.
Many sociology studies have found that residential stability strengthens social ties with neighbors. Other research has focused on how mobility diminishes the depth of social ties because there is less time to build long-term relationships.
A report by the US Realtor Association points to studies that show how, by making ownership more attainable we contribute to social connectivity and community engagement and has a positive impact on:
- sense of agency and control in ones life
- the ability to make decisions about their home environment and contributing to positive change
- satisfaction with life and self-esteem, and grow perceived control over their lives (controlled for income levels)
- stability of residency
- property care and property values
http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1474&context=gladnetcollect (asset based community development)
Land sharing can support local food production
Land share related benefits can support local food systems by reducing the cost of land and increasing practical/physical resources needed to run a farm or produce food on a home garden or market garden scale. New ways to make farming a more affordable and practical career are essential at a time when 50% of Canadian farmers hold second jobs, older farmers are retiring and young people cannot afford to hold land to farm.
Happiness and stable residency
Other studies back up the Vancouver foundation’s findings: “When neighbours know and trust each other, streets are safer, people are healthier and happier, our children do better in school, there is less bullying and less discrimination. We are simply better off in many of the ways that matter.”
“Patterns of neighbourhood connections are pretty much set after a few years,” says the report. “People who have lived in their neighbourhood for 20 years are no more likely to socialize with neighbours than those living in the neighbourhood for three years.”
Benefits of Community Engagement
Being engaged in the decisions that impact our lives and shape our surroundings can lead to better decisions as well as an enhanced sense of personal agency and control over our own lives. Being engaged is also about giving back to our communities, which benefits those who give as well as those who receive.
Social Connectivity and Resilience in Communities
The Building Resilient Neighbourhoods project in B.C.’s Capital Region has identified the connection between neighbours, residents’ socializing, and connection to civic life as essential characteristics of a resilient community. Resilient communities proactively adapt to change and are better able to withstand and respond to threats, stresses, or other disturbances.
Local governments have much to gain from supporting social connectedness because its benefits extend beyond individuals to affect the greater community. These benefits can include increased neighbourhood safety,10 people connecting with the services and support they need,11 strengthened resilience during emergency events, increased volunteering12 and a stronger sense of community pride.1
Home owners are happier and feel more control over their lives
Rohe and Stegman found that low-income people who recently became homeowners reported higher life satisfaction, higher self-esteem, and higher perceived control over their lives.26 But the authors cautioned on the interpretation of the causation since residential stability was not controlled for.
Similarly, Rossi and Weber concluded that homeowners report higher self-esteem and happiness than renters.27 For example, homeowners are more likely to believe that they can do things as well as anyone else, and they report higher self ratings on their physical health even after controlling for age and socioeconomic factors. In addition to being more satisfied with their own personal situation than renters, homeowners also enjoy better physical and psychological health.28Another study showed that renters who become homeowners not only experience a significant increase in housing satisfaction, but also obtain a higher satisfaction even in the same home in which they resided as renters.29
Improves education, participation, health, crime rates
According to a report by the US National Association of Realtors, the social benefits of homeownership and stable housing have many positive impacts : “Homeownership boosts the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates and lessens welfare dependency.”
Health and educational outcomes are positively affected by having a stable home (not just somewhere to live). “There is no greater predictor of health than where you live,” says Dr. Megan Sandel. “Poor housing often is accompanied by stress, minimal economic opportunity, exposure to violence, lack of access to green space and health care, and vulnerability to health threats such as bad air, pests and disease.” Sandel says that “frequent moving can seriously dampen academic achievement across incomes.”…“If you move at least three times between the first and sixth grade, you score 20 points lower on reading scores.”
Higher rates of homeownership reduce rates of crime
Homeowners have a lot more to lose financially than do renters. Property crimes directly result in financial losses to the victim. Furthermore, violent non-property crimes can impact the property values of the whole neighborhood. Therefore, homeowners have more incentive to deter crime by forming and implementing voluntary crime prevention programs (Realtor)
Homeownership increases property maintenance and this has mental health benefits as well as property value benefits
Another key benefit received by homeowners is the structural quality of their housing. However, a well maintained home not only generates benefits through consumption and safety, but research has shown that high quality structures also raise mental health.
Benefits of Stable Residency
The Realtor report links stable residency to home ownership and discusses the following benefits of stable residency.
Residential stability increases social connectivity
Long term residents bring stability to neighbourhoods
Long term tenure means more community engagement, connectivity, social ties,
Lowers neighbourhood crime rates
Reduces interruptions from unplanned moves obviously reduces stress/energy/time/financial resources spent searching for rentals and moving between/adjusting to the change
Detached home dwellers are more connected than apartment dwellers
The Eco Healthy Homes Project brings people closer together but in their own detached homes. Research shows this is beneficial to social connections. Apparently apartment dwellers experience higher levels of social isolation from their neighbours compared to those living in townhomes or single detached homes. Amongst apartment dwellers, renters are revealed to have weaker connections with their neighbours. And apartment dwellers are 60% less likely than home dwellers to know at least some of their neighbors
Vancouver Foundation research discusses connections and engagement in the city has shown that apartment dwellers are more isolated from their neighbours compared to those living in townhomes or single detached homes. Figure 1 highlights how 15% of apartment dwellers have never spoken to a neighbour, which is around twice as many as those living in townhomes or single detached homes at 7%. The Vancouver Foundation also notes that 43% of people living in high-rises do not know at least two of their neighbours’ names. When it comes to doing favours for neighbours, 57% of all people surveyed have not done a favour and this spikes to 77% for apartment dwellers. See Vancouver Foundation research on multi unit dwellers compared to single family homes pg 13
Interaction is good for us – Janelle Orsi from slow homes manifesto
Communities facilitate interaction when they are built around central common areas, face pedestrian pathways instead of streets, or incorporate shared spaces. The right design creates space for magic to happen: residents sharing meals, gardening together, caring for elders and one another’s children, helping each other around the house, taking part in modern “barnraisings,” and generally being there to support each other. There are thousands of cohousing communities, ecovillages, and intentional communities that have achieved this magic. And there is a movement to take our urban neighborhoods and suburbs and retrofit them to incorporate community-oriented design. This might involve taking down fences, closing off roads to through traffic, and creating shared, co-owned, and community-owned spaces.
Social Disconnection and Health
The option of land sharing can provide social connectivity for people who are socially isolated or living alone. Ami Rokach, a psychologist and lecturer at York University in Toronto, has been researching the subject of loneliness for over thirty years. She says it’s “a bigger problem than we realize.” “The issue isn’t just social, it’s a public-health crisis in waiting. If you suffer from chronic loneliness, you run the risk of illness, and premature death.”
Lonely seniors have a 59 per cent increased chance of health issues and a 45% chance of early death according to a University of California study. And it’s not just seniors. In a study of 34,000 Canadian university students, almost two-thirds reported feeling “very lonely” in the past 12 months.
More of us are living alone than ever
More Canadians are living alone than at any other point in history, and for the first time outnumber couples with childre. Single person households are the fastest growing type of household. For the first time, single households outnumber those with people with children and one quarter of them describe themselves as lonely. In Canada’s 2006 Census, single-person households accounted for 27% of all 12,437,470 private homes. It was the fastest growing type of household in 2006,
Social isolation just as unhealthy as loneliness
People, , who live alone and are socially isolated have a higher mortality rate than those who live with others but are lonely, even if they don’t feel lonely. A study published in the journal PLOS Medicine in 2010, declared social disconnectedness is as dangerous as smoking and more so than obesity or physical inactivity.