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NAR and NHC Bring Workers Home Through Workforce Housing Forum

Media Contact: Walter Molony / 202-383-1177 / Email

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2011) - Public and private sector workers in the Northeast need more affordable housing opportunities. In response, the National Association of Realtors®, in partnership with the National Housing Conference, will host a regional forum today in Boston to help develop solutions to workforce housing issues.

During the daylong Bring Workers Home forum, Realtors® will join local and state housing and business leaders as well as local government officials to address area workforce housing challenges, and highlight regional solutions and best practices to overcome those challenges.

“Realtors® build communities, and we know that helping people live where they work is part of that,” said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I. “The Bring Workers Home forum is a tremendous opportunity for Realtors® and local employers, organizations and officials to work together to help solve the housing challenges that our workforce faces. There is a crisis in affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families across the country, and the forum will not only bring this issue to light, but will also encourage efforts to make housing more affordable to working class families throughout the Northeast.”

As home costs continue to outpace wages, many families can no longer afford homes near their workplaces. That includes people who provide vital services such as teachers, firefighters, first responders and police officers. The lack of affordable housing leads to longer commutes, sprawl and traffic congestion, which ultimately lessens the quality of life for all residents.

“The good news is that many cities are beginning to recognize the relationship between workforce housing and a community’s economic and social well-being,” said Phipps. “More importantly, some businesses are also starting to understand the link between housing costs and their bottom line. Housing costs can create challenges for companies to attract and retain employees. There is still a lot to be done, but today’s forum will bring some progress to this issue.”

A morning panel session at today’s forum will discuss why workforce housing is a critical factor in improving the economy in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast, and highlight strategies to address the housing needs of the region’s working families. Jeffrey Lubell, executive director of the Center for Housing Policy, is the keynote speaker. He will discuss the impact of increasing housing and transportation costs on housing options for working families and how these issues effect employer’s decisions to locate or maintain businesses in certain communities. Afternoon panels will share case studies of successful workforce housing programs from across the country, as well as a discussion on the importance of advancing workforce housing through local and regional partnerships.

The following day, Realtors® have the option to participate in NAR’s Employer-Assisted Housing class. The four-hour course helps real estate professionals better understand employer-assisted housing benefits and gives them strategies to work with local nonprofit and lender partners to help local employers implement housing benefits for their employees.

More than 100 attendees are expected at the forum, including Realtor® associations and their members, employers and human resource professionals, urban and regional planners, housing and community development leaders, and local officials, as well as those involved in local housing issues.

Today’s Bring Workers Home forum is part of a series of three regional forums hosted by NAR and NHC to address workforce housing. The forums will take place throughout 2011 in Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Portland, Ore. Visit www.realtor.org/housingforums for more information.

For 80 years, the nonprofit National Housing Conference has been the nation’s premier public policy and housing advocacy organization. To learn more about the National Housing Conference and its research affiliate, the Center for Housing Policy, go to www.nhc.org.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Information about NAR is available at www.realtor.org. This and other news releases are posted in the News Media section.