Immigrant Homeowners: Residential Choices of Low-and Moderate-Income Hmong in Milwaukee's Central City

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The 2000 U.S. Census indicates legal immigrants have reached a record population of 31.1 million. Data suggest growth will continue, significantly impacting housing markets. This investigation seeks to better understand the residential choices of immigrants in U.S. housing markets, specifically immigrant Hmong homeowners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Employing qualitative methods, this case study addresses two questions: (1) what are the short-term residential goals and long-term residential ideals of Hmong homeowners, and (2) are those goals and ideals linked to specific Hmong cultural characteristics and experiences? This study used semi-structured interviews within 32 participant households. Additionally, physical conditions, activities, and behaviors were observed and documented Six Hmong cultural characteristics that influence residential choice are identified: (1) large household size, (2) extended-family household structure, (3) strong kinship ties, (4) Hmong traditional religion, (5) Hmong desire to maintain ethnic identity, and (6) swidden (slash-and-burn) agriculturalism. Further five long-term conditions that influence Hmong participants' residential choice are indicated: (1) economic marginality, (2)fear of crime, (3) discrimination, (4) lack of control over use of residential space, and (5) lack ofconfrol overphysical quality of residential environments. Reportedf indings illustrate ways to identify and exploit assets resulting from immigrants' cultural characteristics and experiences in order to improve housing provision and suitability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-41
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Architectural and Planning Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies


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