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REALTORS® Offer Solutions for Workforce Housing Crisis

Media Contact: Leanne High / 202-383-1290 / Email

WASHINGTON (December 1, 2011) - Public and private sector workers in the northwestern U.S. have limited access for affordable housing. In response, the National Association of Realtors®, in partnership with the National Housing Conference, will host a forum today in Portland, Ore., to address this crisis and encourage efforts to make housing more affordable to working class families.

Bring Workers Home, the daylong forum, is part of a series of three regional forums hosted by NAR and NHC to develop solutions to the country’s workforce housing shortage. The Portland forum will focus on a core set of issues in the Northwest region including identifying steps to create and sustain a workforce housing program; reinforcing the importance of advancing workforce housing through local and state partnerships; exploring workforce housing issues from the perspective of employers; and studying current examples of the area’s successful housing programs and best practice efforts.

“There is a crisis in affordable housing opportunities for low- and moderate-income families,” said NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami. “Realtors® have been leaders on this critical housing issue, dedicating themselves to building stable communities with access to affordable housing opportunities for everyone. The Bring Workers Home forum today will bring together Realtors® and community leaders, local employers and organizations, and officials who focus on workforce housing. This group of dedicated people will address the challenges we see today in our communities, as well as offer solutions to this critical issue.”

In many communities across the country the people who provide vital services such as teachers, firefighters and police officers often cannot afford homes near their workplaces. This is due in part to home costs outpacing wages, as well as communities lacking affordable housing opportunities. The lack of affordable housing leads to longer commutes, sprawl and traffic congestion, which ultimately lessens the quality of life for all residents.

“There is an essential link between workforce housing and a community’s economic and social well-being,” said Veissi. “Many cities are recognizing the value in making a community a good place to live and work. Some businesses have also acknowledged the link between housing costs and their bottom lines as those costs continue to hinder employers’ ability to seek and retain workers. Today’s forum will dig deeper into these challenges, as well as examine practices that have been successful in the Northwest region.”

A morning panel session at today’s forum will make the case for workforce housing by underscoring it as a critical factor in improving a community’s economy, and outlining strategies to address the housing needs of the region’s working families. Keynote speaker Bryn Sopko, director of Human Resources at the University of Portland, will provide an employer’s point of view on workforce housing and how it benefits employees. Afternoon panels will share case studies of successful workforce housing programs from across the region, and participants will discuss the importance of advancing workforce housing through local and regional partnerships.

The following day, participants 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 Realtors®, 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.

The series of Bring Workers Home forums took place throughout this year in Boston; Washington D.C.; and Portland, Ore. This is the final forum for 2011. For more information, visit www.realtor.org/housingforums.

For 80 years, the nonprofit National Housing Conference has been the nation’s premier housing policy and 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.