Workforce housing focuses on expanding housing opportunities for America's working families. In many communities, the people that provide vital services—teachers, firefighters, police officers, and laundry and restaurant workers—often cannot themselves afford to live there. Additionally, as home costs continue to outpace wages, many families can no longer afford homes near their workplaces while many local communities lack homes affordable to local workers.
Communities across the country increasingly are recognizing the link between workforce housing and their communities' economic and social well-being. Shortages of affordable housing close to where families work can lead to longer commutes, sprawl and traffic congestion that degrade the quality of life for all residents. Communities are starting to see the value of making their communities a good place to live, work, play and learn.
Businesses are also starting to understand that there is a link between housing costs and their bottom line as housing costs continue to create challenges for individual businesses seeking to attract and retain workers.
The National Association of REALTORS® has been tracking these growing concerns among its members. In their role as counselors and educators, REALTORS® see firsthand the frustration and discouragement of working families unable to realize their dream of homeownership. As members of the business community, REALTORS® understand how the lack of housing for working families – both rental and homeownership – threatens the vitality of their communities.
In short, REALTORS® are in a unique position to become partners in workforce housing solutions. They, together with other business partners – chambers of commerce, home builders, industry associations, economic development groups, lenders, and individual employers – can work alongside mayors, local officials and nonprofit housing organizations to help expand housing opportunities for low- to moderate-income working families unable to afford to live in the communities they serve or where they work.
NAR is currently focusing on two efforts to address the workforce housing issue: the Ira Gribin Workforce Housing Grants and the Employer-Assisted Housing Class.