Date of Award

8-2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Institute on Family and Community Life

Committee Member

Arelis Moore de Peralta, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Bonnie Holaday

Committee Member

Martha Thompson

Committee Member

Elora Lee Raymond

Abstract

Rates of housing instability are increasing in the United States, largely due to surging rental costs (Kusisto & Malas, 2018). Public housing systems are full and waiting lists are long (Evans, Sullivan & Wallskog, 2016; Katz, Kling & Liebman, 2002). Low-income homeownership policies have faced strong critiques, especially concerns of coercing people into risky financial situations (Shlay, 2006). With a human development perspective (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 2006) and in partnership with the Habitat for Humanity program in South Carolina, this cross-sectional study examined the social benefits associated with low-income homeownership achieved through a robust preparation and support program. Using survey data collected from a sample of Habitat for Humanity homeowners in the state of South Carolina, the relationship between conceptual predictors from the literature (i.e., financial health, residential stability and psychological factors) and social benefits (i.e. collective efficacy, sense of community, neighboring and civic engagement) were explored. Additionally, the relationship between Habitat for Humanity program activities (i.e. financial literacy classes, homeownership preparation classes and sweat equity hours) and the social outcomes were explored. It was further hypothesized that the program activities would also moderate the relationship between the conceptual predictors and social benefits. Findings demonstrated that psychological factors were associated with collective efficacy (b = 0.37, p = .011) and sense of community (b = 0.33, p = .013) while financial health was related to civic engagement (b = 1.01, p = .01). Habitat for Humanity's financial literacy classes contributed to an increase in collective efficacy (b = 0.11, p = .019) but to a decrease in civic engagement (b = -0.43, p = .003), while sweat equity hours were related to an increase in neighboring (b = 0.001, p = .005). Implications and limitations of the findings are included as well as a review of lessons learned in this attempt at a state level evaluation.

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