This 1998 article from the Fannie Mae Foundation’s Housing Policy Debate documents the practical benefits of “social capital” created through tenant ownership of Housing Cooperatives in New York City.
The article presents evidence that social capital can be an effective component of locally sponsored low-income housing programs. It provides a model for measuring social capital at the building level, where it may be most effective in improving housing quality and security. The study compares ﬁve programs in New York City that house the city’s poorest, mostly minority residents. The surveys from 487 buildings in Brooklyn, NY, were analyzed to compare the success of programs in maintaining and revitalizing landlord-abandoned buildings taken by the city in lieu of taxes.
Results of the analysis demonstrate that the positive effects of tenant ownership were largely mediated by the higher levels of social capital found in these buildings. These levels have implications for the survival and economic advancement of poor households and civic participation in poor communities. The study suggeststhe value of alternative homeownership programs.