employer-assisted housing: overview

How can state and local governments leverage employers' commitment to affordable homes for workers?

Employers have a vested interest in making sure their workers can afford decent homes close to the workplace, which can help them attract and retain necessary employees. However, most employers are unlikely to take the initiative to invest in affordable housing strategies for their workers without some encouragement from the public or non-profit sectors. Communities can leverage employers' support for affordable housing in a variety of capacities.  State and local governments can maximize the likelihood of employer involvement in housing by offering financial incentives to augment or offset private contributions, and by facilitating collaboration with non-profit organizations that work with interested employers to design and manage housing benefit programs. Communities with limited funds can encourage employers to take a leadership role in advocating for new development and policy changes that can help meet local needs.

What problems do these policies solve?

When employers work with state and local governments to increase the supply of homes affordable to their workers, they address more than just the housing shortage. By improving access to nearby housing, employers can substantially reduce workers' commute times, removing a major obstacle to new employee recruitment and improving existing employee retention, morale, and productivity. When workers are able to live closer to their jobs, local residents benefit from decreased traffic congestion and reduced air pollution. Employer involvement in housing initiatives can also contribute to community development in and around workplace facilities; for example, an influx of new homeowners and renters may help to stabilize nearby neighborhoods in need of reinvestment or areas with high rates of foreclosed properties, increasing the desirability of the surrounding environment.

Where are these policies most applicable?

Policies and programs that leverage employers' commitment to affordable homes are applicable in a wide range of communities. Without employer support, workers holding low-wage jobs may be unable to find decent housing in high-cost areas and resort towns. In rural communities, employers may need to be involved in housing production programs to ensure there is an adequate supply of housing to support economic development initiatives and attract employees. In declining urban and suburban areas, employer investment in housing can help stabilize neighborhoods and spur revitalization.

Solutions in Action
Westcott Ridge
Photo credit: Curtis Hall, courtesy of Fairfax County Department of Housing and Community Development

The Westcott Ridge Condominiums were purchased by the Fairfax County, Virginia Redevelopment and Housing Authority as part of the Magnet Housing Program, which provides an affordable housing option for participants in the County's Fire and Rescue training program.

Visit the Gallery to learn more about Westcott Ridge, or click here to view case studies of employers that have established housing benefits programs.

Read Quantifying the Value Proposition of Employer-Assisted Housing: A Case Study of Aurora Health Care [PDF] to learn more about the impacts of a homeownership benefits program offered by one employer.

Plainview HomesLearn more about leveraging employers' commitment to affordable homes for workers

Tsigo Bugeh Go back to learn about other policies that help generate capital