Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

125P Implications of IDA Housing Program for the Socio-Economically Disadvantaged

Saturday, January 14, 2012
Independence F - I (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Kyeong Mo Kim, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Maryland at Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
Background and Purpose: A large proportion of households find it very challenging to own a house due to limited economic resources, access to credit market, and a low level of financial information. To be worse, as a result of poor economy and housing market, low-income households and ethnic/racial minorities have fewer opportunities to access capital and asset accumulation. Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) are matched savings program designed to promote asset accumulation by low- and moderate-income individuals/households primarily for home-ownership, education, and business start-up. In general, IDAs programs provide financial services to increase financial knowledge of participants. Due to difficulties to follow up previous IDAs participants, there is little study on whether program participants who purchased home through IDAs housing program still retain the property. To address this research gap, this study aims to evaluate the effectiveness of a housing program affiliated with IDAs by providing empirical evidence that identifies significant factors associated with successful program outcomes.

Methods: To examine the research questions, four data were obtained from a non-profit organization implementing IDAs housing program for St. Louis metropolitan residents: (1) organization administrative data containing information on individual/ household characteristics of participants, (2) administrative data on program characteristics/participation, (3) property and tax records from City of St. Louis and St. Louis County, and (4) the Mid America Regional Information Systems indicating home ownership status after program exit. Program participants who purchased a house through the housing program affiliated with IDAs and exit the program are 1,995 participants. A study sample of 391 participants was randomly selected. A dependent variable is a housing retention defined by whether a participant still retains the house purchased through IDA housing program. Independent variables are: race/ethnicity, household income, household type, and the number of children to measure socioeconomic characteristics; financial education attendance to measure program characteristics; an income-to-contract price ratio and interest rates used for home purchase to measure finance factors. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to investigate the research questions.

Results: The sample is relatively from disadvantaged social economic status. It consists of 31.7% non-Hispanic White and 62.4% other racial/ethnic minorities. A large proportion is female-headed households (44.2%), and average household gross monthly income is $2,527. About three quarters of households retain their house, while 23.5% are not able to keep them. Race/ethnicity is statistically significantly associated with house retention rates (χ2=8.04, p=0.005). A higher percentage of minorities (80.3%) retain their house compared to non-Hispanic White (66.9%). There is a statistically significant association between a type of household and house retention (χ2=5.43, p=0.02); female-headed households (82.1%) are more likely to retain their house than non-female households (72.0%). However, the other variables are not significant.

Conclusions and Implications: Results indicate that racial minorities and female-headed households have a higher possibility to benefit from the IDA housing program. Although the study is conducted with sample and data from a particular region, this research suggests valuable implications for research and practice. More research is needed to identify important program characteristics and roles of IDAs housing program.