Quick Takeaways

  • Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) is a down payment assistance program in which a loan is given to the employee when closing, and forgiven after a certain amount of time if the employee is still with the employer.
  • Fannie May “pioneered” Employer Assisted Housing (EAH) in 1991, though it was largely underutilized in the wake of the housing crash and recession in the mid 2000s.
  • Given today’s high interest rate, low-inventory housing market, Employer Assisted Housing loans could be used to encourage homeownership.

Source: Employer Assisted Housing: A Solution for Companies, Employees and Communities (National Housing Conference, Feb. 27, 2022)

Employer Assisted Housing appears to be on the rise! The loan program, which started in 1991, saw a decrease during the Housing Crisis in 2008, but low inventory and high prices and interest rates have gotten EAHs back in the news in recent years. Some of America’s largest employers, including Amazon, Walmart, and the United States Federal government have begun offering employees assistance as they are getting priced out of headquarter cities.

Successful EAH programs already exist, so there is certainly no need to reinvent the wheel. All over the country, state and local governments have implemented “live where you work” programs, offering down payment assistance to teachers, police officers, and other public servants who are required to live in a specific area to do their job. Examples and plans from those who have successful programs can give insight into how Employer Assisted Housing might work for you or a client.

We have compiled extremely helpful studies, guidebooks, and websites from to help you learn more about Employer Assisted Housing. Homes for Working Families, The Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, Metropolitan Planning Council and the Urban Land Institute’s (ULI) Terwilliger Center for Housing are all experts on the subject, full of evergreen resources.

Employer-Assisted Housing: The Basics

Employer-Assisted Housing Initiative Guide (National Association of REALTORS®, 2023)

“The Employer-Assisted Housing Initiative Guide for State and Local REALTOR® Associations provides a roadmap for associations to plan and implement an EAH initiative to help increase affordable housing opportunities for working families in your community. The guide includes examples of EAH initiatives some associations have already implemented as well as a set of tools and resources to help you implement your initiative.”

Employers Begin Offering Home-Buying Support Benefits (SHRM, Nov. 8, 2022)

“In January 2022, Pew Research reported that about half of Americans (49 percent) say the availability of affordable housing in their local community is a major problem, up 10 percentage points from early 2018. Women are feeling the pinch more than men, and younger people more than older. Those in major urban markets are being particularly pinched. In October, CNBC reported that there are only four U.S. cities where the average American can afford a starter home: Detroit; Memphis, Tenn.; Oklahoma City; and Tulsa, Okla.”

These Employers are Helping Workers Achieve Their Dreams of Homeownership (Fortune, May 6, 2022)

“One of the nation’s biggest employers, Amazon, recently announced a Housing Equity Fund worth more than $2 billion “to preserve existing housing and create inclusive housing developments through below-market loans and grants to housing partners, traditional and non-traditional public agencies, and minority-led organizations.” The program is initially available in Washington, Virginia, and Tennessee, where the online retailer has major hubs.”

Employers are Helping Create Affordable Housing (National Association of REALTORS®, Nov. 3, 2021)

“Ownership of the site has been transferred from Universal to a not-for-profit established by the company called Housing for Tomorrow. Its role is to oversee the initiative and make sure it remains true to the original vision. Housing for Tomorrow will retain ownership of the site and serve as master developer — entering a $10-a-year/55- year lease for the property with Wendover. Housing for Tomorrow’s charter states that its mission is: “Providing and preserving housing for low- and moderate-income people that is safe, secure and affordable in perpetuity.”  

Employer-Assisted Housing Plans & Examples

State and Local Government EAH Programs (National Association of REALTORS®)

This list from NAR provides examples of Employer Assisted Housing across the county, run by state or local governments. From Baltimore’s “Live Near Your Work” program to Connecticut’s police and teacher specific programs, this list provides many examples of successful Employer Assisted Housing programs.

Effective Employer-Assisted Housing Programs (National Housing Conference)

“In some local jurisdictions, the public sector is one of the largest employers and can lead a community’s employer-assisted housing efforts. By offering housing-assistance programs for their workers, state and local governments set an example for private sector employers to emulate and help ensure that public employees can live near where they work. In some cases these programs may target emergency response workers, such as firefighters and police officers who are critical community workers.”

Employer Assisted Housing (Northside Community Development Corporation, 2023)

Northside Community Development Corporation is a Chicago-area member of REACH (Regional Employer-Assisted Collaboration for Housing.) Highlighted programs include Labelmaster’s EAH, as well as Loyola University Chicago’s EAH.

Employer-Assisted Housing Studies, Guidebooks, and Websites

Understanding Employer-Assisted Housing: A Guidebook for Employers (Homes for Working Families, 2007)

“Homes for Working Families is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing policy changes that enable more of America’s working families to find safe, good-quality homes they can afford. The organization focuses on the families of teachers, police officers, retail associates, office workers and other working families who struggle to find homes they can buy or rent in the communities near their jobs. Homes for Working Families pursues its mission at the local, state and national levels.”

Employer-Assisted Housing: Competitiveness Through Partnership (Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Sept. 2000).

“The Joint Center for Housing Studies analyzes the ways in which housing policy and practices are shaped by economic and demographic trends and provides leaders in government, business and the nonprofit sector with knowledge and tools for formulating effective policies and strategies. Established in 1959, the Joint Center is a collaborative unit affiliated with the Harvard Design School and the Kennedy School of Government. The Center’s programs of research, education and public outreach inform debate on critical housing issues and illuminate the role of housing in shaping communities. The Policy Advisory Board, a diverse group of business leaders in the housing sector, provides support and guidance for the Center and its activities. The Joint Center also receives input from its Faculty Committee, which draws on the expertise of a university-wide group of scholars.”

ULI: Terwilliger Center for Housing

The ULI Terwilliger Center for Housing was established by J. Ronald Terwilliger, chairman of Trammell Crow Residential, to expand housing opportunities for working families. The mission of the Center is to serve as a catalyst in increasing the availability of workforce housing in high-cost communities by harnessing the power of the private sector.

Metropolitan Planning Council

In addition to advancing policy recommendations to strengthen employer-assisted housing initiatives, MPC plays a hands-on role in EAH by working with employers and communities to design and implement customized EAH programs. MPC’s EAH initiative also is linked to northeastern Illinois' Commute Options pilot, through which numerous public and private partners are working together to help employers offer workers a range of transportation choices (including EAH), so they don’t have to drive solo to work; and to the EAH-R program, through which employers assist homeowners with making energy retrofits to their homes to reduce their utility payments.