Friday, August 27, 2010

Employer-Assisted Housing: A Critical Private-Public Partnership

To help our county recover from the recent housing and economic crisis, additional private-public partnerships are needed. One way to develop these partnerships is to engage employers in employer-assisted housing (EAH) programs. EAH describes a variety of housing benefits that employers can offer their employees, such as homebuyer assistance, rental assistance, homebuyer education, new construction and renovation of housing. These programs improve employees’ quality of life while also boosting recruitment and retention for employers. In addition, EAH programs strengthen communities by helping employees to live closer to work, reducing lengthy commutes and pollution and by leveraging private-sector partnerships. Businesses that currently provide EAH programs include CVS, Northrop Grumman, Aurora Health Care, the City of Seattle as well as many others.

Some states and localities have already established incentives to help businesses provide EAH programs. For example, the State of Illinois provides a state tax credit called the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program, which offers a 50-cent state income tax credit for every dollar invested in employer-assisted housing or donated to the creation of affordable homes. Through this program the public investment of $2.5 million has leveraged more than $8 million from employers – and resulting in approximately $2.4 billion in home sales since 2000. On August 3, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into law legislation extending this program until 2016. The program was set to expire next year.

NHC advocates, through a NHC run working group, for ways in which EAH programs be incentivized at the federal level. One such way is through a federal EAH tax credit. This tax credit would be the organizing strategy around which public and private sectors could improve and expand EAH programs nationally while also being used as a match for states and localities trying to engage more employers and get similar programs started.

To learn more about EAH programs, NHC and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) are convening a series of four Bring Workers Home regional policy forums in 2010 to address workforce housing issues and solutions, including EAH. These forums focus on policies that better connect affordable housing, jobs and transportation in different regions across the country. The final forum will take place in Honolulu on October 12. Three previous forums were hosted in Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Austin. For more information on the series and to register for the Honolulu forum, please visit NHC’s website.

Image: Partnerships are key to helping homes stay in good hands, via franklyrealestate.com


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