Housing for workers proves critical as home prices in Boston area soar more than 9% since 2010
July 27, 2011
BOSTON—The Boston area is bucking a national trend of falling home prices, meaning many metro residents cannot afford to live in the communities they serve. Solving this issue tops the agenda at a regional forum on Thursday, July 28, in Boston. The Bring Workers Home forum, sponsored by the National Housing Conference (NHC) and National Association of REALTORS®’ (NAR) brings together national, state, and local leaders to explore the issues and identify effective housing strategies. The forum is part of a series of regional forums hosted by NAR and NHC to address workforce housing taking place throughout 2011 in Boston; Washington, D.C.; and Portland, Ore. Visit NHC.org or www.realtor.org/housingforums for more information.
During the daylong forum, scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Boston, REALTORS®, local and state business leaders and elected officials will work together to create workable solutions.
“It's extremely important to engage REALTORS®, employers and other members of the private sector in the process of expanding housing opportunities for working families,” said keynote speaker Jeffrey Lubell, executive director of the Center for Housing Policy (the Center), NHC’s research affiliate. “By bringing the private sector into dialogue with housing advocates as well as practitioners and policymakers interested in the environmental, health, economic and quality of life benefits of developing affordable homes close to job centers and public transit stations, this forum will help expand the constituency for more effective housing policies that represent a 'win-win' for working families, employers, and the community at large.”
Lubell referenced data released last Friday by the Center that highlights the difficulty working families in the Boston area have in finding affordable housing. Only one of the 72 jobs featured in the new study can afford a mortgage at Boston's median prices. Workers in more than half of the occupations studied cannot even afford typical rents despite working full-time. The interactive database, Paycheck to Paycheck 2011, is an online resource with data comparing income and housing costs throughout the U.S. When it comes to housing, the Boston area has become less affordable even as the median home price declined nationwide. According to this year’s data, the median home price in the Boston area has increased by almost $30,000 since last year, rising more than 9 percent from $270,000 to $298,000. “This staggering increase is troubling news for everyday workers in the Boston area whose salaries have not risen nearly as much,” Lubell explained. “It serves as a concrete example of why housing affordability is such a pressing issue for workers, communities, and employers.”
NAR President Ron Phipps, broker-president of Phipps Realty in Warwick, RI, added, “There is a crisis in affordable housing opportunities for low-and moderate-income people across the country, and the forum will not only bring this issue to light, but will also encourage efforts to make housing more affordable to working class families throughout the Northeast.”
More than 100 people are expected to attend the forum, including employers, HR professionals, realtors, urban and regional planners, housing and community development leaders, local elected and appointed officials and state HFA representatives. An outstanding lineup up speakers will explore the major issues, such as why housing is a critical factor in improving the economy in Massachusetts and throughout the Northeast, and highlight strategies to address the housing needs of the region’s working families. Lubell’s keynote speech will address the impact of increasing housing and transportation costs on housing options for working families and how these issues affect employer’s decisions to locate or maintain businesses in certain communities. Afternoon panels will share case studies about successful workforce housing programs including why local and regional partnerships help.
The following day, REALTORS® have the option to participate in NAR’s Employer-Assisted Housing class. The four-hour course helps real estate professionals better understand employer-assisted housing benefits and gives them strategies to work with local nonprofit partners to help businesses to implement housing benefits for their employees.
About the National Housing Conference
As the United Voice for Housing, the nonprofit National Housing Conference (NHC) has been dedicated to helping ensure safe, decent and affordable housing for all in America since 1931.