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NHC and NAR Regional Forum Focuses on Effective Solutions to Workforce Housing Challenges in the Southwest

Austin Bring Workers Home Forum Draws Local, State and National Leaders to Discuss
Workforce Housing Policies That Better Connect Affordable Housing, Jobs and Transportation

Austin, TX (August 12, 2010) – Local, state and national housing leaders came together in Austin today to identify effective solutions to workforce housing challenges facing the southwest region. Specifically, the Bring Workers Home: 2010 Regional Forum sponsored by the National Housing Conference (NHC) and National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) drew more than 100 participants who discussed the importance of public and private sector partnerships in creating, sustaining and advancing workforce housing.

While many low- to moderate-income families and individuals move away from city centers and jobs to seek more affordable housing, the subsequent increase in transportation costs is often not factored into the true cost of suburban living.  As a result, the forum centered on the growing “cost of place” – the price of housing, transportation and utilities combined – and innovative ways to address this and other workforce housing challenges in Austin, the southwest, and across the nation.

Keynote speaker Janet Byrum, director of human services for the Oklahoma-based Advance Food Company, detailed Advance’s First-Time Home Buyers Assistance Program, which provides eligible employees with a $2,500 loan that is forgiven after three years of continuous employment.  To date, Advance’s program, commonly referred to as employer-assisted housing, has helped 113 employees in purchasing a home.

“Workforce housing, and the growing combined cost of housing and transportation, presents immediate hardships for working families, and long term challenges for our national economy,” said NHC President and CEO Maureen Friar. “Today’s forum seeks to capitalize on a new, transformational national movement that is focused squarely on connecting affordable housing, employment centers and transportation – ultimately, bringing America’s workers home.”

The Austin forum is the third of four Bring Workers Home forums that NHC and NAR are sponsoring across the nation. The first forum took place in Atlanta in June, the second in Minneapolis in July, and the final 2010 forum is coming up in Honolulu on October 12.

NHC and NAR would like to thank the following regional and national partners for their help in planning the Austin forum: Austin Board of REALTORS®; Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; International Economic Development Council; and the Metropolitan Planning Council.