Spring 2011 www.metroplanning.org

In Chicago, Saint Anthony Hospital’s brand-new Employer-Assisted Housing program is helping employees become stable homeowners through downpayment assistance and free housing counseling that informs workers about additional city homeownership incentives. Ricardo Lopez, a hospital security officer, is the hospital's first success story. Read on ...   

Hospital's EAH program opens door to city's homebuyer support

Like many first-time homebuyers, Ricardo Lopez and his wife felt a bit overwhelmed earlier this year as they confronted all the nuances of purchasing their first home in Chicago. 

Around the same time, Mr. Lopez, who works as a security officer for Saint Anthony Hospital on Chicago’s southwest side, heard the hospital was about to roll out a new benefit to help staff purchase a home in Chicago. After meeting with his human resources liaison, he wasted no time completing the program requirements, including attending pre-purchase housing counseling and group education classes. Meanwhile, he and his wife found the perfect condo on the city’s northwest side, placed a contract, and began the mortgage approval process. 

At the end of March, with Saint Anthony Hospital’s Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) program officially underway, Mr. Lopez became its first success story: He and his wife received the keys to their new home, with a $3,000 forgivable loan from Saint Anthony to help offset their closing costs. 

“The EAH program is a unique employee benefit that will keep Saint Anthony competitive and help us retain our talented workforce,” said Saint Anthony Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Guy A. Medaglia. “We are so pleased to offer a program that not only assists our own employees, but also supports our community and the City of Chicago by helping people become stable homeowners.”  

What’s unique about Saint Anthony’s EAH program is that hospital administrators strategically included the entire geography of Chicago as its eligible boundaries. These broad boundaries allow eligible employees to layer the hospital’s assistance with other City of Chicago homebuyer programs, such as the TaxSmart Mortgage Credit Certificate Program. Some of these incentives – such as the city’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program and the Plan for Transformation – only apply to certain neighborhoods. Limiting the hospital’s EAH program to a smaller geography would have meant employees couldn’t take advantage of these opportunities. 

Instead, the hospital’s new EAH benefit is two-tiered: It offers $3,000 to any eligible employee purchasing a home anywhere in Chicago; and $6,000 to eligible employees who opt to purchase in the communities nearby the hospital, bounded by Ashland Avenue to the east, Cicero to the west, the Eisenhower Expressway to the north and 55th Street to the south.  

To help employees make the most of its EAH benefit, tap additional assistance, and help prepare them to become stable homeowners, MPC encouraged Saint Anthony to enlist a third-party administrator, Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) of Chicago, Inc. Following the REACH Illinois program model, MPC engages NHS and other community-based housing experts for many reasons: 

  • A third-party administrator maintains employee confidentiality throughout the homebuying process.
  • Eligible employees receive pre-purchase counseling through NHS, as well as education about additional layers of homebuyer assistance available through city and private first-time homebuyer programs.
  • NHS can provide long-term support to Saint Anthony’s EAH participants, because the agency offers a full array of support to homebuyers, including counseling, lending, rehab, and foreclosure-prevention services.
  • NHS is a housing expert with years of experience in this field, and has worked with many employers on successful EAH programs.   

“Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago is pleased to expand its commitment to families and neighborhoods in Chicago by participating in the Saint Anthony Hospital Employer-Assisted Housing program.  NHS has focused on making Chicago full of 'neighborhoods of choice' for families preparing for home ownership since 1975, and this partnership is another example of how the energy and commitment of many different participants can be brought together to make dreams come true for Saint Anthony Hospital employees," said Ed Jacob, NHS executive director. "This program is beginning when housing prices are very affordable and interest rates are very low, so this is a perfect time for employees who have been thinking about owning a home to take the next steps and make that a reality.”  

Pamela Jones, Director of Workforce Development for Saint Anthony Hospital Human Resources (pictured at left) also expressed enthusiasm: “Saint Anthony Hospital is proud to offer our workers an Employer-Assisted Housing program that provides downpayment and closing cost assistance to eligible employees who buy a home in Chicago,” she said. “The program also helps prepare employees for homeownership through courses and counseling provided through Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. Interest from staff has been high: We have already celebrated Ricardo Lopez’s successful home purchase and look forward to many more.” 

Indeed, thanks to the hospital's marketing savvy, more than 35 employees turned out for the official Saint Anthony Hospital EAH program launch in April. Saint Anthony Hospital has committed to provide up to 10 forgivable loans and provide housing counseling for up to 40 members of their workforce each year. NHS Homeownership Consultant Sherry Smith spoke one-on-one with more than 25 employees who are interested in purchasing their first home and excited about the hospital’s EAH program. Ms. Smith (pictured below) teaches classes and works with future homebuyers at the NHS North Lawndale office.


Mr. Lopez has become Saint Anthony Hospital’s unofficial EAH booster. “I think Saint Anthony’s EAH program is wonderful. The housing counseling, in particular, was a huge benefit in helping me pull everything together and my counselor, Sherry, went above and beyond to work with my lender and made sure the down payment was credited to my loan," he said.  "I don't know what I would have done without this assistance!"

The Bottom Line

MPC continues to celebrate the versatility of this bottom-line benefit for employers and employees. By enlisting an independent housing expert to administer Employer-Assisted Housing programs, companies can give their employees an additional leg up, with free counseling to prepare them for homeownership and advice on taking advantage of other private and public homeownership incentives. To learn more about successful EAH programs such as Saint Anthony Hospital's, send inqueries to eahadvantage@metroplanning.org.


The EAH Advantage is MPC's quarterly e-newsletter about Employer-Assisted Housing.

Upcoming events

Jun 27 2011 Annual Luncheon
What, Where and How?
Rethinking the Retail Landscape
11:00 AM–1:30 PM
Jul 28–29 Bring Workers Home - Boston Regional Workforce Housing Forum 9:00 AM–3:00 PM

More events »

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Urge Congress to fund housing counseling in FY2012 budget

New Commute Options program will help employees adopt greener commutes

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Successful strategies for revitalizing post-industrial cities

How and why Illinois should support competitive regions and federal Livability Principles

City of Evanston showcases a plan for new homes

MPC to lead national EAH working group

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