On Dec. 1, I attended the 10th Bring Workers Home forum, convened by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and National Housing Conference (NHC). I helped plan the event and moderated the two afternoon panel discussions, at which the speakers shared both their own experiences helping their workers find and afford attractive homes, as well as overall best practices in workforce housing. NHC’s Emily Salomon posted a blog that provides a nice overview of the day.
I was particularly inspired by Bryn Sopko’s presentation, describing the University of Portland’s employer-assisted housing program (EAHP). According to Sopko, the university’s commitment to environmental sustainability was a driving factor that bolstered support for their EAHP. The program, through which employees can receive between $10,000 and $15,000 to buy a home in a targeted community near campus, has been extremely successful: 127 employees (out of 450 employees) have taken advantage of the benefit. The program’s goals include:
- Recruit and retain employees;
- Assist employees in purchasing a home near campus;
- Improve the livability and involvement in local community;
- Assist in meeting state and city clean air mandates;
- Decrease commuting and parking on campus, and encourage alternate transportations options; and
- Positively reinforce University of Portland’s commitment to sustainable environmental practices.
I continue to shine the spotlight on successful EAH programs because each one has customized goals, and therefore each employer realizes unique benefits from its EAH program. For more information about EAH, visit MPC’s EAH web page.
In 2012, NAR is encouraging local REALTOR associations to convene regional partners for their own conversations about workforce housing solutions. Contact me for help shaping a local EAH event, or for assistance designing an EAH model that engages private-sector leaders and addresses your goals.