Ideas. Action. Results.

By Bill Gilmartin and Holly Moskerintz

Who are unconventional stakeholders who can help rally support for housing?

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The unconventional stakeholders who can rally support for housing are employers, stakeholders who have a very direct business interest in insuring the supply of affordable housing close to work or transit for employees. Employers are recognizing the drain on employee efficiency caused by the stress of inadequate and too costly living accommodations – not to mention the fear of losing their homes – and the long commute times that detract from family time. An adequate supply of affordable housing, especially in high cost areas and in areas undergoing revitalization, has a direct impact on employers’ bottom lines and can often make the difference for businesses that may be considering relocation.

The National Association of REALTORS® is proud of its record in educating its members to work, in partnership with non-profit organizations and lenders, with local employers to implement diverse strategies to increase affordable housing opportunities for their employees. These strategies, referred to as employer-assisted housing (EAH), include homebuyer and homeownership education, counseling, financial assistance (for downpayment or closing costs), rental assistance and other innovative approaches.

EAH can help employees obtain practical and affordable housing, thus boosting employee morale and productivity. Other results of employer-assisted housing include improved recruitment and retention of workers and increased loyalty. The community at large benefits as well with enhanced housing opportunity for more of its citizens and an increase in working families living and working in the same community.

While Realtors®, and their partners, can work with employers to develop strategies, there is also help available from many local and state government agencies, such as matching grants, and leveraging that assistance can be crucial in the provision of employer-assisted housing benefits. These local initiatives in turn often make use of federal dollars from the HOME and Community Development Block Grant program. State housing finance agencies are also leading many employer-assisted housing programs with innovative financing products.

The unconventional stakeholders can and do rally support for housing through the example of their willingness to step up in the face of a business need to provide for the very basic human need for housing.

Bill Gilmartin is a senior policy advisor for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Holly Moskerintz is NAR’s community outreach program representative.

Welcome to the BPC Housing Commission expert forum! This forum is intended to foster interactive and substantive discussion about pressing housing issues. Each month contributors from different parts of the housing sector will be invited to respond to a discussion topic. Guest posts will feature prominently on BPC’s website, as well as be shared regularly with Housing Commissioners to help inform their work.

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Expert bloggers are not members of the BPC Housing Commission. Any views expressed on this forum do not necessarily represent the views of the Housing Commission, its Co-Chairs, or the Bipartisan Policy Center.