MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Hmong home ownership is on the rise in Minnesota, with more than half of Hmong heads of household owning their homes in 2000, up from just one in eight in 1990, according to Census 2000.
The state's overall home ownership rate is close to 75 percent.
While the statistics, released Wednesday, are a sign of progress, some in the Hmong community said it reveals that others are struggling.
In many cases, for example, a shortage of rental housing, rising rents, and the difficulty of accommodating large Hmong families in apartments have pushed poorer Hmong into home ownership, they said.
"Our community is buying a lot of leftover houses," said Cha Lee, executive director of the Southeast Asian Community Council in Minneapolis. "Many were rental before and not well-maintained, and the roof is leaking and the owner has little money to maintain them."
Consequently, neighbors complain about upkeep even as the owner struggles to meet mortgage payments by working multiple jobs, Lee and others said.
Likewise in rural Minnesota, home ownership for Hmong can mean rundown trailer parks or long drives to find something affordable, said David Zander of the state's Council on Asian-Pacific Minnesotans.
The high rate of Hmong home ownership was not a surprise to others.
"If you are a young Hmong professional and you go to certain restaurants, you will have two or three Hmong Realtors coming up to you and introducing themselves and telling you to call them if you ever want to buy a home," said Pacyinz LyFoung, who works for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency.
Some Hmong also said there is simply is no cultural tradition of renting among the Hmong.
"There is no rental in Laos, period," Lee said. So there is both great frustration in working hard without owning property as a reward, and great prestige and therefore sacrifice in owning.
Also adding to the ownership trend is the Hmong clan system and very close extended families whose members pool their resources and live communally while saving to buy and even after buying.
With 41,800 Hmong, Minnesota trails only California, which had 65,095 in 2000, Census 2000 showed.
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