The issue: Attracting and retaining a quality workforce
The spatial mismatch between housing affordability and employment opportunities poses a challenge for employers seeking a stable and competitive workforce. Many workers struggle to save up the sizable down payment required to mortgage a home.
When looking for a home, many people prefer to live near their workplace—and most employers see the benefit of having a nearby workforce. Pragmatic policies driven by these values have tremendous impact for employers, workers and the communities that house them by contributing to more stable and productive workplaces and neighborhoods.
The solution: Employer-Assisted Housing
Since 2001, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been promoting Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH), a proven strategy that extends housing affordability for employees while enhancing the competitiveness of businesses. Through EAH, companies provide guidance and financial assistance to employees who purchase or rent homes in or near communities where they work.
EAH can be designed to fit an employer's personnel objectives and budget. The cost to the employer varies based on the amount of financial assistance offered to employees, plus the costs of administration and housing counseling by a HUD-certified agency. Special state incentives, including tax credits and matching funds, make EAH financially attractive for employers.
Employees can benefit from these incentives, too: For families earning up to 80 percent of the area median income, the Illinois Housing Development Authority will provide up to $7,500 as a triple match of employer-funded downpayment assistance.
EAH requires a very limited time commitment from the employer during the initial set-up, when particulars like eligibility criteria and assistance amounts are determined. MPC pairs employers with a nonprofit housing counselor from our network, who handles all administration from then on.
The benefits: Dollars and sense
Employers such as the University of Chicago and Medical Center, Loyola University and Robinson Engineering are enjoying the range of benefits that result from EAH:
Recruitment: Offering EAH makes employers more competitive and attracts talented workers.
EAH lowers turnover rates
5.3% EAH employees
14.5% All employees
Aurora Medical Centers, average 2004-2007
Retention: Employee turnover is expensive. EAH is proven to increase retention, ultimately reducing turnover costs.
Both the structure of the forgivable loan and the increased employee loyalty and satisfaction motivate employees to maintain their relationship with the employer. A study by Aurora Medical Centers, of Milwaukee, Wisc., found that their EAH employees had retention rates two to three times greater than their average employee or regionwide retention rates.
Revitalization: When employers are located in or near an economically distressed community, the homeownership and investment that EAH promotes can be a part of anchoring and revitalizing that community.
Relations: Because EAH strengthens the community surrounding an employer, it can create a bond or improve the existing relationship between an employer and its neighbors.
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