ARLINGTON, VA. - Efforts to promote homeownership for low-income families should include provisions designed to help them stay homeowners, a study by the Research Institute for Housing America concluded.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found there is considerable though not irrefutable evidence that homeownership is associated with financial security. The results were issued Monday.

But the benefits of homeownership may not apply to all homeowners, the researchers said.

For example, they said, the federal mortgage interest deduction, which is generally believed to benefit all homeowners, often cannot be used by low-income families. Taking the standard deduction often makes more economic sense for low-income households than itemizing tax deductions, such as mortgage interest and other homeownership preferences.

The authors of the report called for more study of the benefits and costs of homeownership.

"The inability of most poor and working-class homeowners to access a major piece of the American dream remains a paradox of American tax policy, particularly in light of the recent enactment of historic tax-relief legislation," said Steven Hornburg, executive director of the institute, which is funded by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

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