Housing costs among low-income renters and homeowners: "Rent V. Buy" and the hidden costs of low-income homeownership

Russell N. James, Cliff A. Robb, Andrew T. Carswell, Jorge H. Atiles

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Much government policy in recent years has been directed at increasing homeownership among low-income households. Many have argued for the unconditional acceptance of increasing low-income homeownership as an important policy goal. However, evidence from household expenditures in the Consumer Expenditure Survey suggests many difficulties of this conceptually appealing target. Low-income homeowners are more likely to purchase homes with proportionally higher "hidden" ownership costs such as maintenance and utilities. Further, tax policies direct homeownership benefits towards high-income households, often generating no tax deductions for low-income households. Because of these distinctions, currently available consumer information on "rent v. buy" calculations can be particularly misleading for low-income households. Government policies mandating increased lending to low-income households combined with the realities of housing costs differences for these households may have ultimately contributed to the current mortgage default crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHousing, Housing Costs and Mortgages
Subtitle of host publicationTrends, Impact and Prediction
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages9
ISBN (Print)9781607418139
StatePublished - Jan 2013


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