Monday, June 14, 2010

NHC and NAR Seek Solutions for Working Families in Atlanta

In Atlanta today, NHC and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) kicked off the first of four Bring Workers Home forums on workforce housing issues. The lack of affordable housing close to work is a problem employees face across the country, made even more difficult by today’s housing market and declining wages. With limited options, more and more workers have to live far from work locations, increasing transportation costs, commuting time, and environmental impacts in communities across the country.

Today’s forum in Atlanta focused on private and public sector solutions to these problems. As workforce housing challenges continue to increase across the country, the well-tested programs discussed today can become models for other neighborhoods nationwide.

Darlene Porter of Aflac Incorporated and Manuela Vicente of Baptist Health South Florida spoke forcefully about how their housing benefits, including down payment and closing cost assistance, help workers find and keep housing they can afford. Employer-assisted housing is an innovative way for businesses to help make communities—and commutes—more sustainable, while increasing employee morale, productivity, and retention.

Ray Christman with the Livable Communities Coalition led a panel addressing the new housing landscape and what it means for working families in the southeast region.  He stressed that more upfront homeownership counseling can help families understand their loan terms and find housing that’s financially appropriate.

John O’Callaghan with the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership emphasized the need for preservation of the affordable rental stock that we have, since it’s likely that new housing construction will be limited for the foreseeable future. 

Clearly, the struggle to help working families find safe and appropriate housing continues, as will NHC’s and NAR’s search for solutions that work. Upcoming Bring Workers Home forums will take place in Minneapolis in July, Austin in August, and Honolulu in October.

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