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Urban Homeownership and Mental Health: Mediating Effect of Perceived Sense of Control


Correspondence should be addressed to Kim R. Manturuk, Senior Research Associate in Financial Services, Center for Community Capital, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1700 MLK Blvd., Suite 129, Chapel Hill, NC 27599;


What are the mechanisms responsible for homeowners’ better mental health? Social disorganization theory suggests that the relationship between homeownership and mental health is mediated by perceived sense of control, trust in neighbors, and residential stability. This hypothesis is tested using data collected from respondents in 30 low-wealth urban areas. Using propensity score matching and regression models, I find that low-income homeowners report a greater sense of control and trust in their neighbors than comparable renters. Homeownership likewise has an impact on mental health, but the effect is entirely mediated by perceived sense of control. Part of that mediating effect is related to avoiding serious delinquency in mortgage payments. However, subjective trust and residential mobility did not mediate the relationship between homeownership and mental health. The study findings are discussed in light of the need for a cohesive theory of homeownership, particularly given changing economic realities.