The Social Return On Investment of the Center’s Work

Bill Gray July 25, 2019

A sneak-peek at top-line results from a third-party analysis of the Social Return on Investment of the Center's work.

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Homeownership Center engaged in two third-party research projects designed to analyze the impact of its homebuyer education and advising services (including foreclosure advising) and identify opinions around homeownership among non-homeowners across the state. While more work remains to be done in analyzing the results and determining what they’re telling us about consumer needs and community impact, today we’re unveiling the first of two sneak-peeks at top-line results.

The first exercise we engaged in was determining the ‘social return-on-investment’ (SROI) of the Center’s consumer services. The Center enlisted Ecotone Analytics to conduct this academic analysis. Ecotone generally analyzes data for the past ten years in order to negate the effects of blips and temporary service demand spikes and slumps. However, when the data was crunched, the Center’s SROI for the period between 2008-2017 was very surprisingly high – a full $7.26 in monetary value to the community was generated for every $1.00 spent delivering services to consumers. A quick look at the graphical representation of the data immediately revealed the reason for this huge community benefit – the foreclosure crisis following the collapse of the housing market in 2008.

Between 2008 and 2010, the Center’s foreclosure advising work assisted nearly 20,000 homeowners in preventing foreclosure. The result was a series of direct financial benefits to households served ($1.81 for every $1 spent on all Center services), local government entities operating where the homes were located ($1.42 for every $1 spent on all Center services) and mortgage lenders benefiting from the foreclosures avoided ($3.77 for every $1 spent on all Center services). These results are a strong indicator of the value of investing in foreclosure prevention counseling, especially in times of housing market instability.

Because the collapse of the housing bubble skewed the SROI results so dramatically, Ecotone reanalyzed the data to focus solely on the period of 2015-2017. This time period represented a much more typical distribution of Center services across education, advising and foreclosure prevention. The new analysis demonstrated a SROI figure of $2.98 in monetary value to the community for every $1.00 spent delivering services to consumers, $1.94 of which accrued directly to the households served. Notably, 50 percent of this amount accrued to households of color based on the ethnicity of households served by the Center during this time period. For comparison purposes, $0.24 of this amount accrued to the local government entities involved, and $0.75 accrued to the mortgage lenders.

This was an exciting and enlightening exercise to go through, and the results will help us to continue making the case for the value of homebuyer services. The key difference is that now we can confidently connect real dollar value to our work. Stay tuned for top-line results from a third-party-administered survey on homeownership attitudes and beliefs among non-homeowners in Minnesota!

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