MPC assistance leads to new employer-assisted housing programs around the country.
The Metropolitan Planning Council’s employer-assisted housing (EAH) program has been cited repeatedly as a national model, and the Illinois tax credits have inspired introduction of a federal EAH incentive. Seeing the opportunity to demonstrate the potential of engaged employers to support innovative housing policy, MPC has been offering technical assistance outside Illinois. Even with the current economy and weak housing market, in 2008, new companies launched EAH initiatives, and employees continued to buy homes with their employers’ assistance.
MPC provided assistance that led to the creation of REACH-Mississippi, a new EAH program for businesses in six coastal counties that were hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina. Sixty-five employers are participating in the program and have referred more than 700 employees for pre-purchase counseling and assistance. REACH-Mississippi was awarded $40 million in hurricane recovery dollars to provide matching funds for homebuyers. Northrop Grumman launched one of the first EAH programs with hundreds of employees applying for housing assistance in the first few months of the program’s launch.
In September, 2008, Johns Hopkins University Johns Hopkins Health System rolled out its revamped EAH program, with increased assistance offered for buyers purchasing in Baltimore neighborhoods that need reinvestment. The program has already helped more than 23 employees with new home purchases in targeted neighborhoods. Johns Hopkins contributed up to $16,000 in down payment assistance, which leveraged resources from the City of Baltimore and the State of Maryland. In addition, more than 30 employees have expressed interest in using this assistance to buy homes in the new East Baltimore Development, a public-private partnership to redevelop the disinvested East Baltimore area into a vibrant mixed-income, mixed-use community.
In Nevada, MPC advised the 60,000-member Culinary Union on developing an EAH initiative in partnership with Las Vegas gaming employers, including Harrah’s Entertainment, Golden Nugget, MGM Mirage, and others. MPC provided testimony in support of state legislation that authorized $1 million to match the employers’ investment in down payment loans for first-time homebuyers, homebuyer education and counseling, and foreclosure prevention workshops.
Other places MPC has provided technical assistance include Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. In the Chicago region and around the country, EAH continues to serve as a useful tool to engage business and other leaders in supporting housing solutions, around stabilizing neighborhoods, preventing foreclosures, promoting reinvestment, and overcoming affordability gaps.
For more information, or to request assistance with an employer-assisted housing initiative, contact Samantha DeKoven at 312-863-6021.
For more information about MPC's employer-assisted housing activities in Illinois, visit www.reachillinois.org.