Modeled largely off of Illinois and local EAH efforts throughout the country, "Housing America's Workforce Act" can reframe and refuel the national housing dialogue.
MPC is urging colleagues nationwide to express their support for the Housing America's Workforce Act of 2007.
Groups around the country are striving at the local level to increase quality housing options near jobs, transit, retail, and good schools. They will benefit from the new private sector partners, resources and leadership this bill can provide.
Modeled on lessons learned in Illinois -- where over 1,200 employees have been able to purchase homes with employer assistance in recent years -- and other localities promoting employer-assisted housing (EAH), this legislation proposes a $.50 federal tax credit on every dollar an employer invests in EAH, including down payment and rental assistance and housing counseling. To ensure the program is successful and hassle-free for the employer, the legislation provides initial support to the nonprofit housing agencies that administer the program for employers and provide professional and confidential counseling services to participating employees. The legislation also excludes as taxable income the housing support employees receive from the employers.
Illinois has learned a great deal about the bottom-line business value of affordable, workforce housing. We have also seen meaningful outcomes -- both in terms of employees served and responsive housing policy change at the state and local level. This is precisely the sort of activity needed at the national level. For more information on EAH achievements and accomplishments in Illinois, or to pursue an EAH initiative within your community or company, please visit REACH Illinois
The federal bill is currently co-sponsored in the U.S. Senate (S.1078) by Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) -- and in the U.S. House (H.R.1850) by Nydia Velasquez (D-N.Y.), Joe Baca (D-Calif.), Gwen Moore(D-Wis.), Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), Charles A Gonzalez (D-Texas), Jim Ramstad (R-Minn.), and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.).
We hope you or your organization will endorse this bill and encourage your legislators -- as well as your national colleagues and counterparts -- to support it. Members of the House Ways and Means Committee, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity, and the Senate Finance Committee will review this bill, so please reach out to those individuals in particular to urge their support. Wherever you live, feel free to personalize the sample letter. Illinois residents can use MPC's e-advocacy center to send messages directly to their congressional representatives. Please sign on to indicate your support of the bill.
While housing professionals and policymakers struggle to support the millions of Americans affected by the subprime meltdown, now -- perhaps more than ever -- the country needs creative strategies for leveraging new resources for homebuyer education and counseling. Increasingly, employers see their self interest
in investing in such counseling, and assisting their own employees from experiencing the kind of instability that results from predatory lending and potential foreclosure. Examples of model employer-assisted housing programs around the country are featured in a new publication, Understanding Employer-Assisted Housing: A Guidebook for Employers,
co-authored by MPC and Homes for Working Families. MPC was pleased to co-author this guidebook, available at www.homesforworkingfamilies.org