Employer-assisted housing is a housing program used by neighborhood employers that helps employees move beyond the most common hurdles to homeownership and purchase or rent a home in the community where they work. Such programs can be leveraged with federal, state, and local financial assistance programs to create a greater benefit for the employee and can include services like homebuyer/homeownership education, counseling, financial assistance, or matched savings. Because of its ability to help employees live where they work, employer-assisted housing programs are a valuable tool for economic development and community revitalization. People who live and work in the same location tend to be more invested in the community and become more active in civic and volunteer activities. Additionally, employees living and working nearby equals less traffic congestion, less air pollution, and the spending more of their money in the community, supporting local merchants and further adding to the economic vitality of the area.
In Pennsylvania, for example, the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) offers an Employer Assisted Housing Initiative to help address the issues regarding the lack of affordable housing for low- to moderate-income workers. In this program, participating employers partner with PHFA to offer employees a monetary home purchase benefit that stretches their home buying dollars even further. In addition, although the employers' benefits do not have to be contingent on a PHFA mortgage, if the employee is approved for a PHFA mortgage, through a participating lender, the borrower receives substantial financial advantages at no cost to the employer. In other places like at the University of Chicago, the institution provides grants to staff members who choose to live in designated neighborhoods near the university’s campus. Assistance includes help with rent and down payments, as well as homeownership classes.
Employer motivations to undertake Employer-Assisted Housing initiatives can best be encapsulated by the “Four R's”: employee recruitment; employee retention; neighborhood revitalization; and community relations. Employers are generally incentivized to make use this mechanism in tight housing markets to recruit and retain employees, and in soft housing markets where they have substantial investments to revitalize deteriorating neighborhoods.
How Housing Matters | "When Employers Help With Housing, Winners Emerge"
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis | Employer Assisted Housing
National Association of Realtors | Employer Assisted Housing Fact Sheet for State and Local Governments