Study: Immigrants help housing markets

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By Sherry Robinson

An old friend living in my former neighborhood said he’d witnessed a wave of homebuyers, all undocumented immigrants. He considered this a step up from the slumlords and crack houses we worked to get rid of. Furthermore, the new occupants were serious about home improvement.
 “They may not paint their houses the same colors we would have, but they’ve fixed them up, built fences and planted flowers,” he said.
We represented the previous wave — young professionals with modest incomes who thought we could turn around a stagnant area, one house at a time. We did, sort of, but the pace of change lagged the pace of crime. Most of us gave up and moved on. My friend stayed because he liked his house, and it was close to work.
A new study shows this latest wave isn’t an isolated case.
Immigrants, 40 million of them, have added $3.7 trillion to United States housing wealth and helped “stabilize less desirable communities where home prices are declining, or would otherwise have declined.” This is according to Americas Society/Council of the Americas and Partnership for a New American Economy.
In case you doubt the sources, have you noticed that the big home-improvement stores feature bilingual signs? Many retailers have joined them.