Erie Vital Signs

Housing: Homeownership Trend by Race

Recent Performance

This trend is mixed or inconclusive.

Since 2005, there has been a general decline in home ownership rates in Erie, PA, the thirteen Vital Signs peer areas, and the nation as a whole, but the decline has been most pronounced among whites.

Among all races, Erie had the seventh highest overall home ownership rate in 2014 when compared to the thirteen Vital Signs peer areas. As of 2014, Erie’s overall home ownership rate was 66.3 percent, which was higher than the rate for the U.S. (63.1 percent), slightly higher than the peer area average (65.8 percent), but slightly lower than for Pennsylvania (68.8 percent). Although it increased between 2012 and 2013 (before declining again in 2014), the overall home ownership rate in Erie has yet to climb back to the 71.1 percent reached in 2007

During 2013-2014 in Erie, the home ownership rate fell for whites and African-Americans but increased for Asians and Hispanic residents. And compared to the thirteen peer areas, the 2014 home ownership rate among Hispanic residents was the lowest in Erie.

Note: The statistics on home ownership for Asian residents in Erie may be subject to error due to small-sample variability.

The Basics

The home ownership rate measures the percentage of individuals who own a home in a given year. The data are also broken down into home ownership rates by race.

Why is this important?

Home ownership represents having a stake in physical property in a particular area. Those with such a stake are more likely, all else constant, to engage in activities that maintain or increase the value of their property, thereby contributing to local economic development. In addition, for many individuals and families, home ownership represents the single biggest share of their overall wealth.

The Details

The U.S. Census Bureau uses the following definitions in estimating home ownership:

Occupied Housing Unit – A housing unit is classified as occupied if it is the current place of residence of the person or group of people living in it at the time of interview, or if the occupants are only temporarily absent from the residence for two months or less, that is, away on vacation or a business trip. If all the people staying in the unit at the time of the interview are staying there for two months or less, the unit is considered to be temporarily occupied and classified as “vacant.” The occupants may be a single family, one person living alone, two or more families living together, or any other group of related or unrelated people who share living quarters. The living quarters occupied by staff personnel within any group quarters are separate housing units if they satisfy the housing unit criteria of separateness and direct access; otherwise, they are considered group quarters. Occupied rooms or suites of rooms in hotels, motels, and similar places are classified as housing units only when occupied by permanent residents, that is, people who consider the hotel as their current place of residence or have no current place of residence elsewhere. If any of the occupants in rooming or boarding houses, congregate housing, or continuing care facilities live separately from others in the building and have direct access, their quarters are classified as separate housing units.

Owner-Occupied – A housing unit is owner-occupied if the owner or co-owner lives in the unit, even if it is mortgaged or not fully paid for. The owner or co-owner must live in the unit and usually is Person 1 on the questionnaire. The unit is “Owned by you or someone in this household with a mortgage or loan” if it is being purchased with a mortgage or some other debt arrangement such as a deed of trust, trust deed, contract to purchase, land contract, or purchase agreement. The unit also is considered owned with a mortgage if it is built on leased land and there is a mortgage on the unit. Mobile homes occupied by owners with installment loan balances also are included in this category. A housing unit is “Owned by you or someone in this household free and clear (without a mortgage or loan)” if there is no mortgage or other similar debt on the house, apartment, or mobile home including units built on leased land if the unit is owned outright without a mortgage.

The Nitty-Gritty Details

U.S. Census Bureau, The American Community Survey, 2013 Subject Definitions


Data on home ownership are available for the following race categories: All races, white, black or African American, Asian, Hispanic.

Peer Areas

These variables include data on all 13 of the standard peer areas, along with U.S. and PA data.




U.S. Census Bureau, The American Community Survey (ACS)

Other Related Data

Latest Erie Data from the Economic Research Institute of Erie, at the Black School of Business at Penn State Behrend

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