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Caught in the Housing Bubble: Immigrants' Housing Outcomes in Traditional Gateways and Newly Emerging Destinations

Gary Painter and Zhou Yu
Research has documented that immigrants have moved in large numbers to almost every metropolitan area and select rural areas in the country (e.g., Lichter and Johnson 2009; Painter and Yu 2010). In the midst of these demographic shifts, the country has experienced a profound recession. To date, there has been little research on the impact of the recession on immigrants across the country. Using the 2006 and 2009 American Community Survey microdata, we assess how the recent economic crisis has affected immigrants with respect to three housing outcomes (residential mobility, homeownership, and house hold formation) to compare housing outcomes at two important time points in the recent economic cycle. The results suggest the early impact of the recession has not been as severe on immigrants as one might expect. In particular, the places where immigrant populations are newest have not experienced reductions in homeownership as those in the large immigrant gateways. Even in the established gateways, the decline in homeownership has been smaller for immigrants than for native-born households. Regression results suggest that the negative impacts from the recession are strongest in the gateway metropolitan areas, and that after controlling for residence in the hardest hit areas, changes in unemployment rates and increases in metropolitan level default rates have a negative impact on homeownership rates.