Dallas, Texas – Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity is launching a new benefit for their employees that may also help the nonprofit compete for top talent as mortgage rates and demand create major barriers for potential home buyers trying to find homes in the competitive North Texas housing market. This comes at a time when the housing market in North Texas is extremely competitive, making it difficult for potential home buyers to find homes.
According to Blaine Cowart, Vice President of Homeowner Services for Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity, “We had to ask ourselves at Habitat, you know our teammates pour so much into serving the communities that we seek to serve, what can we do to reinvest into our own people?”
According to Cowart, the solution was to create a new employee benefit in the form of a housing help program. They gave the initiative the moniker “Welcome Home.” She went on to explain that the charitable organization was going to make use of the $9 million donation that had been given to it by MacKenzie Bezos in order to help employees who met certain income requirements with a down payment and closing costs of up to $13,000 in the form of a loan that would be forgiven after a term of 5 years.
“The stability of so many other aspects of our life depends on the housing that we have. Therefore, when an employer such as Habitat makes an investment in their own employees to ensure that those employees not only have access to affordable housing but also housing that is close to work, that is going to reduce the amount of time they spend commuting and the amount of stress they experience as a result of commuting “Cowart said.
According to Cowart, the benefit is comparable to the types of Employer Assisted Housing Programs (EAHP) that are often used by some local governments to assist public servants such as teachers, police officers, and firemen in purchasing homes in the communities in which they serve.
Research analyst Clare Losey from the Texas Real Estate Research Center argues that in order to address the widening affordability gap in the DFW Metroplex caused by the rising cost of housing, more initiatives similar as Welcome Home are required.
“When we think about homeownership, especially for families with low and moderate incomes, it is still the major mechanism by which people accumulate wealth in our country. When we think about homeownership, especially for low and moderate income families. This is unquestionably a step in the right direction. I will also mention that there is a large body of research that has accumulated to demonstrate that assistance programs for down payments are quite successful “Losey stated.
Cowart and her staff at Habitat for Humanity express their hope that their investment will encourage other businesses to do the same.
She stated, “That has major consequences for employers who want employees who are able to be happy overall and, more importantly, who want people who are overall more financially stable.”
Participants in the Welcome Home program will furthermore be required to complete homebuyer education courses. Midway through September, eight Habitat for Humanity workers had submitted their applications, and the first buyer was well on their way to moving into their new home by November 2022.