JSIT21-03: SSI Policy and Homeownership: Patterns Across Categories of Disability & Race



For low-and middle-income households, homeownership is a pathway to building wealth and to ensuring stable and secure housing. People with disabilities, low-income households, and Black families all experience substantially lowerrate of homeownership than others. A large body of literature examines the historical and policy context for these outcomes for each of these populations. Of note, each of these groups is substantially overrepresented among those receiving Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. SSI is a means-tested federal program, with varying levels of additional state support, that provides monthly income to those who are blind or disabled. Recipients may not own assets totaling more than $2,000 (or $3,000 per married couple). While homes are excluded from this assessment, the strict cap on savings generally means that SSI recipients who do not already own a home when they begin to receive benefits cannot accrue enough savings to qualify for a mortgage. There is a gap inthe literature on homeownership patterns in that it does not examine the role of SSI receipt or SSI policy. Using data from the 2019 American Community Survey, this analysis explores the relative importance of SSI receipt in influencing homeownership among these populations. The analysis examines the impact of each of these characteristics –having a disability, receiving SSI income, being low-income, or being Black –on the odds of homeownership, controlling for other demographic measures. I calculate thepredicted probability of being a homeowner for each of these populations to demonstrate the extent to which SSI asset limits impact each of these groups differently and how it may be contributing to the racial wealth gap.

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