Workforce Housing Focus of NAR Symposium in Columbus

Communities across the country are struggling to meet the demands of affordable housing. This is becoming increasingly relevant in places like Syracuse, New York, Wichita, Kansas, and West Lafayette, Indiana, where thousands of workers are relocating to work at new semiconductor facilities being built as a result of the CHIPS and Science Act. Elected officials and community leaders at all levels are now tasked with making creative solutions to address the housing supply to accommodate these new workers.

That is why the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) held its Affordable Workforce Housing Symposium in Columbus, Ohio—an area expecting around 3,000 new employees—as Intel begins the development of a facility in nearby New Albany. NAR convened policymakers from all levels of government, including a panel with representatives from the Department of Commerce (DOC) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The panel, hosted by NAR’s Vice President of Policy Advocacy Bryan Greene, heard insights from Adrienne Elrod, director of External Affairs for the DOC, and Elayne Weiss, special policy advisor at HUD, about how the two agencies are working together to address affordable housing in these communities and across the country. The two also touched on ways communities can tap resources from the federal government to help expand their supply of affordable workforce housing. 

Following Greene’s discussion were two panels moderated by NAR’s Chief Advocacy Officer Shannon McGahn and Columbus REALTORS® Treasurer Buffie Patterson. The two panels featured stakeholders in the Columbus community who are working together to foster sustainable growth and establish housing preparedness for their growing workforce. As the chair of the Ohio Senate’s Select Committee on Housing, State Senator Michele Reynolds spoke about the role the legislature has played in creating solutions to increase residential development so middle-class workers can achieve homeownership. In tandem with homeownership, Charles Hillman, president and CEO of the Columbus Metropolitan Housing Authority, provided his valuable perspective on the affordable housing crisis in Central Ohio, and discussed the role of sustainable affordable housing, which fosters economic growth, safe and healthy neighborhoods, and cultivating vigorous communities for generations to come. 

The affordable-housing shortage does not have a one-size-fits-all solution. Every community has unique challenges that community officials must overcome to increase their supply. NAR’s Affordable Housing Symposium brought together leaders at all levels to showcase how the relationships between federal, state and local governments and community organizations can lead to effective change that increases housing and bolsters economic development. NAR and its state and local associations of REALTORS® will continue to advocate for common–sense solutions, and bring stakeholders together as was highlighted in Columbus, Ohio. 

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