MPC is a strong proponent of the Livable Communities Act and, along with the National Housing Conference, National Association of Realtors and other partners, has proposed minor modifications to include incentives for employer engagement and Employer-Assisted Housing.
Employer-assisted housing is a proven strategy for building public-private partnerships in support of live-near-transit and live-near-work, key strategies that promote livable communities. Additionally, the earlier communities engage employers in planning efforts, the more sustainable those plans tend to be. Why? Involving employers not only promotes effective coordination between housing, jobs and transportation policies and investments, but also more private sector support of catalytic public policies.
In addition to public investments such as roads, sewers and water infrastructure, strategic investments in housing can leverage private sector resources and leadership to help shape livable communities.
Illinois’ employer-assisted housing programs, spurred by state incentives, have become a model for the nation, not only by helping 2,200 people afford housing costs, but also by helping achieve location efficiency, financial literacy, housing affordability in hot markets, community revitalization, public housing integration, transit-oriented development, live-near-work options, and more.
For example, CVS has announced an employer-assisted housing program in the Chicago region to support the housing plans of local mayors, local employers provided critical support for a redevelopment of dilapidated rental housing in south suburban Riverdale, and Loyola University Chicago helps employees live near campus or within a half mile of the train line to campus. In all cases, employer-assisted housing and participating employers have played a key role in advancing more livable communities.
Since 2000, the State of Illinois has provided tax credits and matching funds for EAH, which have led to more than 70 employer sign-ons. The state’s $2.3 million investment has leveraged $8 million in employer expenditures, which amounts to $400 million in home purchases.
As evidenced by this summary of the University of Chicago program, EAH employees have reduced commutes and emissions, employers have more stable, productive employees, and communities benefit from households investing in the neighborhood. This versatile program has proven successful for a range of employers in different marketplaces and in urban, suburban, and rural areas.