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Realtors® Focus on Workforce Housing Challenges, Solutions at National Forum

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

WASHINGTON (October 10, 2012) – As leading advocates for housing issues, Realtors® work hard to address the shortage of affordable housing for public and private sector workers in communities across the country. To raise awareness of this critical issue, the National Association of Realtors® will host a national forum today in Chicago focusing on the housing needs of working families.

Bring Workers Home, a daylong forum addressing workforce housing, will bring together federal and local government officials, Realtors®, business leaders, financial institutions, and national housing and community development leaders to identify challenges in the area and highlight innovative solutions and best practices.

“Millions of households are struggling to meet relatively high housing costs and the country lacks an adequate supply of affordable workforce housing,” said NAR President Moe Veissi, broker-owner of Veissi & Associates Inc., in Miami. “For some of the people that provide vital services in communities such as teachers, firefighters and police officers, it is difficult to afford homes near their workplaces. This lack of affordable housing leads to longer commutes, sprawl and traffic congestion, which ultimately lessens the quality of life for all residents. The Bring Workers Home forum brings together leaders on this critical issue who will work to address challenges and offer solutions.”

The forum will feature several sessions and panels including a discussion on housing challenges and the impact on working families by Eric Belsky, Managing Director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. An industry roundtable discussion will follow with several panelists including NAR Vice President of Research Paul Bishop and representatives from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, NeighborWorks® America, and the Washington State House Finance Commission.

Amy Rislov, Senior Vice President of Human Resources with Aurora Health Care, Milwaukee, will deliver the keynote address and discuss Aurora’s winning employer-assisted housing program. Four breakout sessions will focus on neighborhood stabilization and foreclosure solutions; advocacy and policy programs and strategies; consumer education, outreach and assistance; and affordable housing finance and development.

“Many cities are beginning to recognize an essential link between workforce housing and a community’s economic and social well-being,” said Veissi. “In addition, employers are also better able to maintain a stable and talented staff when employees have affordable housing options. Progress has been made in this area, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Raising awareness of the issue and addressing the challenges during today’s forum is one crucial step forward.”

The forum is sponsored by NAR in collaboration with a group of national and local partners, including the Illinois Association of Realtors®, the Chicago Association of Realtors®, the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors®, Metropolitan Planning Council, the National Council of State Housing Agencies, the National Housing Conference, NeighborWorks® America, and the Urban Land Institute. More than 200 attendees are expected at the Bring Workers Home forum including Realtor® associations and their Realtor® members, business leaders, local government officials, nonprofit housing organizations, financial institutions, policy makers, and others involved in local housing issues.

The following day, participants have the option to participate in NAR’s Employer-Assisted Housing class. The four-hour course helps real estate professionals and their partners 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.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.