GREENVILLE, SC - Analysis of new US Census figures show the number of Hispanic homeowners in South Carolina and in Greenville County fell from 2000 through 2010 although the Hispanic population more that doubled.
Wilfredo Leon, publisher of the Greenville-based Spanish-language newspaper Latino, said the downward trend of Hispanic homeownership may be related to the recession, which has hit Hispanic workers particularly hard.
“The economy has taken a toll in the overall well-being of the Latino population,” he said.
Statewide, the number of homes owned and lived in by Hispanics fell 21 percent, from 32,061 to 25,241 during the decade, while the number in Greenville County dropped from 4,205 to 4,142, according to an analysis of census reports by local sources.
At the same time, the Hispanic population in the state grew from 95,076 to 235,682, according to census figures, a 148 percent increase.
Greenville County's Hispanic headcount was up 155 percent, from 14,283 to 36,495. In Pickens County, the Hispanic population was up 99 percent, from 1,879 to 3,743.
The Hispanic population may not have grown as much as it appears, Leon said, because in 2000 more Latinos shunned census workers out of fear of deportation.
The Census Bureau hired bilingual workers who convinced Hispanics that it would be advantageous to participate in the census, which had a big impact, he said.
“I think this last census was a lot more accurate than all the other censuses in regards to the Latino population,” he said.
The housing figures for both census counts were probably accurate, though, he said.
“Homeowners are not people who would have the kind of fear that other people have as to being identified here in the United States,” he said. “If you’re a homeowner it means you’re legal.”
The trend of Hispanic homeownership could be turning around, Leon said. Hispanics who already owned homes have been relocating here since the 2010 Census was taken, he said.
“Right now there’s an influx of Latios coming from other states, like New Jersey,” he said.
The cost of living and the value of homes there are higher, so when they come here, they have equity to buy a home, he said. Some of them also have started businesses, he said.