Ask almost any American which type of neighbor is ideal, and the answer can be reduced down to “people like us”. It is the impetus behind Italian neighborhoods, Polish neighborhoods, Jewish neighborhoods, and every other neighborhood defined by ethnicity. And while it’s no secret that people want to live with other people who are like them, it may be surprising to learn that, over the past three decades, “residential segregation” has increased, based on a study conducted by The Pew Center. The study also found that the share of U.S. middle class areas is down to 76% in 2010 from 80% in 1980, while the share of lower-income neighborhoods rose to 28% from 23%, and upper-income areas have doubled to 18% from 9%. The home ownership rate now hovers at 65%, the lowest since 1995, according to the Census Bureau.
So what happens when millions of owner-occupied, single-family homes go into foreclosure and become rentals? Prejudices begin to emerge. Case in point – a recent Harris Interactive survey of 3,000 adults revealed:
33% of respondents want neighbors to speak the same language
16% want neighbors to have similar family structure
10% prefer the same race or ethnicity
35% (even among renters) want neighbors to be homeowners
51% of homeowners prefer other homeowners as neighbors
It seems homeowners and renters are prejudiced against renters, citing that renters are less willing to adapt to local customs concerning noise, trash, parking and lawn upkeep. “Homeowners are perceived to care more about their property, its appearance, safety of the community and property values”, says Robert Borzotta, founder of NeighborsFromHell.com
Among neighborhood arguments arising between a homeowner and a renter, the homeowner often erroneously believes he has more rights as a tax-paying citizen. But not all neighbors are at odds. According to Trulia, only 46% of urbanites know their neighbors by name. Clearly, some neighbors are busier in the cyberworld.