Today, local, state and national housing leaders came together in Honolulu to identify effective solutions to the workforce housing challenge. Essential workers in many communities, like Honolulu, cannot afford safe and appropriate housing near their place of employment. Highlighting solutions and bringing together diverse groups in search of practical solutions has been the mission of National Housing Conference (NHC) and National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Bring Workers Home regional forums.
Tourism accounts for nearly seventy-five percent of Hawaii’s economy and many jobs in this sector do not pay enough for workers to affordably obtain homeownership or rental homes, according to the Center for Housing Policy’s Paycheck to Paycheck–an interactive database comparing wages and housing costs for 200 metro areas.
The Bring Workers Home forum in Honolulu provides a unique opportunity to bring together regional leaders and experts to discuss and exchange ideas on how to make affordable workforce housing a reality – not only for working families and individuals in the Hawaii, but throughout the nation.
The forum focused on how to create, sustain and advance workforce housing both through public-private partnerships and privately funded employer-assisted housing programs. Keynote speaker Darlene Porter, Second Vice President for Employee Relations/Talent Management at Aflac™, shared the success of their employer-assisted housing program, which provides down payment and closing cost assistance to its employees through a first-time home buyer grant program.
Today’s forum was the final in a series of four regional workforce housing events that NHC and NAR sponsored across the nation this year. Forums in Atlanta, GA (June); Minneapolis, MN (July) and Austin, TX (August) helped to identify both the challenges and solutions for workforce housing in those markets. One key theme that emerged from each forum is that despite the current housing crisis and falling home prices, working families continue to struggle with their housing costs and policy innovations are still needed at the local, state, and federal levels.