Housing is a crucial component of economic competitiveness for employers seeking a reliable workforce. Employers have a stake in extending housing affordability and creating housing opportunities for their employees while increasing the competitiveness of their businesses in the areas where they are located. Employers can aid in several ways and at various levels. A customized Employer-Assisted Housing (EAH) program can provide opportunities for businesses to help their employees become homeowners or secure affordable housing close to work and could include the following components:
- Homebuyer education and counseling
- Down payment assistance programs
- First-time homebuyer mortgage programs
- Foreclosure prevention counseling
- Realtor home buyer representation
- Relocation services
Local jurisdictions can create and/or facilitate the formation of EAH programs through education, linked assistance programs (e.g., first-time homebuyer mortgages), fostering partnerships between employers and providers, and/or encouraging employers to form their own programs that could provide services, housing, or other forms of financial assistance. An EAH program may also serve as a local economic development tool.
The agricultural industry is one of the largest employers in the Valley, and affordable housing is key to its long-term success. In 2018, The California Institute for Rural Studies prepared a case study entitled “Farmworker Housing Study and Action Plan for Salinas Valley and Pajaro Valley” (see link in the Available Resources section below). Employers could potentially offer a wide variety of assistance ranging from education and partial financial assistance (subsidies) to the actual provision of housing.
Stakeholders noted that farm labor makes up a sizable portion of the Valley workforce and that farmworker housing is typically not close to amenities and services, creating challenging transportation and livability issues for farmworkers. An employer-assisted program could be tailored to address these unique needs.
Stakeholders also suggested that the Valley could be made more attractive to employers through ‘quality of life’ and transportation system improvements. As affordable housing is a key determinant in the quality of life for employees, an employer-assisted housing program could benefit employers with recruitment and retention. In the Valley, there are several industries that are well suited to employer-assisted housing programs, including those serving farmworkers, educators, tourism workers, and other employers seeking to recruit and maintain their workforce.
Relevant State Law
Assembly Bill No. 1783 (AB 1783) (2019), the Farmworker Housing Act of 2019, creates a streamlined process to build farmworker housing on surplus agricultural land, and sets quality standards to ensure that the new housing is dignified and family friendly. With the passage of AB 1783, jurisdictions could partner with non-profit housing providers to develop farmworker housing with willing landowners.
Employer Assisted Housing
Local Housing Solutions. Employer-Assisted Housing Program Development.
Neighborhood Housing Partnership Services. Employer Assisted Housing.
California Institute for Rural Studies. Farmworker Housing Study and Action Plan for Salinas Valley and Pajaro Valley.
California State Assembly. AB 1783 – Farmworker Housing Fact Sheet.
Motivation Education & Training, Inc. (MET). National Farmworker Jobs Program – Housing.
California State University Monterey Bay. University Corporation – Employee Housing.
UC Santa Cruz. Employee Housing.
Other Employer-Assisted Housing
San Mateo County. Home for All Employer-Employee Housing Program.
City of Burlington. Employer-Assisted Housing Programs Precedents.