Source: Wisconsin State Journal, April 28, 2002 Sunday
The remarkable rise in homeownership among two ethnic minority groups in
Hmong and American Indians - is worth applauding. Not only is it an accomplishment
for the new homeowners, it is a benefit for the whole state.
According to Census data, 47.5 percent of Indian households were homeowners in
2000, up from 42.9 percent in 1990. That is a sizable increase. But the
homeownership increase among Hmong households is truly astounding: It soared to
48 percent from 10 percent.
The statewide average increase in homeownership was 1 percentage point.
The increase indicates two important trends that are good for Wisconsin. The
first concerns why homeownership is increasing among the two groups: Hmong and
Indian families are growing in financial wherewithal. That gives them the clout
to pursue dreams like homeownership, and it offers Wisconsin added fuel for
economic growth. Moreover, it is a welcome counterpoint to the overall gap
between rich and poor, which grew in the 1990s.
The second trend concerns the impact homeownership has on communities.
Homeownership is associated with reduced crime, civic responsibility and other
"good citizenship" traits. Increasing homeownership rates suggest that Hmong and Indians are
building strong communities.
Homeownership rates for Hmong and Indians remain far below the 68 percent
average for Wisconsin. Moreover, homeownership varies widely within Hmong
communities and from Indian tribe to tribe. Among Indians, homeownership rates
were substantially dependent upon the effects of casinos, which have pumped
money into some reservations but not others.
The disparities show that more needs to be done by and for Hmong and Indians to
create opportunities for homeownership. But the trends are clearly positive -
for Hmong, for Indians and for Wisconsin.
The Hmong and Indians who pursued the American dream and became homeowners
during the 1990s deserve our congratulations and appreciation.