Pleasanton Weekly

Real Estate - October 7, 2011

Forums looking at workforce housing needs

Communities suffer if they lack affordable housing, Realtors say

by Jeb Bing

To address a nationwide shortage of workforce housing, the National Association of Realtors, in partnership with the National Housing Conference, sponsored a public forum this week in Washington, D.C., in an effort to preserve and expand affordable housing opportunities.

"Bring Workers Home" is part of a series of three regional forums hosted by NAR to develop solutions to the country's workforce housing shortage. The D.C. forum explored the nature of the workforce housing challenges in the Mid-Atlantic region and highlighted some of the area's successful housing programs and best practice efforts currently under way in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District.

"Realtors work hard to build stable communities, and with a lack of affordable housing opportunities, those communities suffer," said NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, R.I.

"As home costs continue to outpace wages, many individuals and families can no longer afford homes near their workplaces," he said. "This leads to things such as longer commutes and traffic congestion, which ultimately lessens the quality of life for all residents."

The Bring Workers Home forums are aimed at encouraging Realtors to work with local employers, community organizations and officials to more closely examine this crisis and work together to offer solutions.

This week's forum in Washington featured remarks from D.C. Council Member Michael Brown about why workforce housing matters and strategies to address the housing needs of the community's working families.

Keynote speaker Hassan Minor from Howard University offered an employer's perspective, discussing the benefits that employer-assisted housing programs provide to employers, their employees and the community. In addition, two afternoon panels shared case studies of successful workforce housing programs and discussed strategies for advancing workforce housing through community partnerships.

"It's encouraging to see employers recognize the value of workforce housing and how it affects their employees and ultimately their bottom line," said Phipps. "Communities across the country are beginning to realize the link between workforce housing and their communities' economic and social well-being."

"However," he added, "there is still a lot of work to be done and this forum is one step toward addressing workforce housing needs."

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