How Do Foreclosures Affect Immigrant Homeowners?

How Do Foreclosures Affect Immigrant Homeowners?
Deirdre Pfeiffer, Karna Wong, Paul Ong, Melany De La Cruz-Viesca
Housing Studies
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Immigrant homeowners disproportionately relied on co-ethnics, or people from a person’s own ethnic group, for advice and financial support during the Great Recession, according to Deirdre Pfeiffer and her colleagues in Housing Studies. Comparing immigrant and nonimmigrant homeowners’ experiences during the housing crisis, the authors examine how ethnic boundaries, distinct interactions, and dynamics within ethnic groups influenced immigrant homeowners’ outcomes related to foreclosures. The authors conducted qualitative interviews in 2013 with six immigrant and six nonimmigrant homeowners in four Los Angeles County communities. Additionally, they interviewed 13 community-based organizations and housing counseling agencies that primarily served either immigrants or nonimmigrants. These interviews revealed that immigrant and nonimmigrant homeowners and the organizations that served each population during the Great Recession had different experiences.

Key findings

  • Language, cultural, and household barriers hindered immigrant homeowners’ abilities to use mainstream institutions.
  • Support from co-ethnics, such as pooling resources in multigenerational households and receiving support from linguistically and culturally knowledgeable nonprofits, helped immigrant homeowners build wealth and navigate economic shocks.
  • Language and cultural boundaries negatively affected immigrants’ abilities to refinance or modify loans when foreclosure was imminent.
  • Ethnicity should be considered when analyzing homebuying and homeownership in areas with large immigrant populations, regardless of overall market conditions.