Homeownership is a goal shared by many residents of the United States, both native and foreign born, citizen and noncitizen. For immigrants in particular, making the transition from renter to homeowner represents a significant investment in the United States. With nearly 1 in 7 U.S. households headed by someone who is foreign born, decisions made by immigrants and their families to purchase a home can have a measurable impact on the U.S. housing market. The nation’s urban geography is increasingly shaped by these foreign-born households, bringing unique identities to cities and neighborhoods.
Using data from the 2011 American Community Survey (ACS), this report examines homeownership and renter status among foreign-born households. After discussing the distribution of all households in the United States by tenure, nativity, and citizenship, the report considers housing tenure by place of birth and year of entry for foreign-born households.1 Finally, the report describes the geographic distribution of foreign-born homeowners living in the United States.
The foreign-born population includes anyone who was not a U.S. citizen at birth. By comparison, anyone who was a U.S. citizen at birth is native born. In this report, households are categorized as native or foreign born based on the nativity status of the householder.2 Usually, the householder is the person, or one of the people, in whose name the home is owned, being bought, or rented. A foreign-born household is a household in which the householder is foreign born (regardless of the other occupants’ nativity).
1 Housing tenure refers to whether a housing unit is owner or renter occupied. Owner occupied includes housing units owned with a mortgage or loan or owned “free and clear” (without a mortgage). In this report, people living in owner-occupied housing units comprise owned households (or owner-occupied households). People living in renter-occupied housing units comprise rented households (or renter-occupied households).
2 In this report, the terms native and native born are used interchangeably.
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