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FHFA Hosts Workforce Housing Workshop

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Published: 7/25/2018

On June 27, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) hosted nearly 100 stakeholders for a workshop focused on ways to create and preserve affordable housing for moderate-income households – also known as “workforce housing.”  The term workforce housing is often used to describe households that earn between 60-120 percent of area median income (AMI).  During the workshop, participants discussed the possible need for an industry standard definition, and whether or not “workforce housing” is the best description for this segment of the rental market.   

Workshop attendees, including lenders, investors, trade groups, and advocates all agreed that, across the nation, the availability of workforce housing is at risk.  As part of this year’s Conservatorship Scorecard, FHFA tasked Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the Enterprises) with studying the shortage of affordable, moderate-income housing and with developing strategies that appropriately support liquidity for workforce housing.  Conducting this workshop is one part of FHFA and the Enterprises’ efforts to study this segment of the affordable multifamily housing market.

The day-long event included a research presentation from Enterprise Community Partners and a panel discussion with speakers from the Housing Partnership Equity Trust, Avanath Capital Management, and Johnathan Rose Companies.  Afterwards, attendees participated in roundtable discussions and brainstormed ideas for programs and policies, with a focus on how the Enterprises could best support the availability of workforce housing.

The panel discussion identified several challenges faced by industry participants, including:

  • Addressing the lack of investor interest in moderate-income housing;
  • Debunking negative myths and stereotypes about moderate-income housing;
  • Balancing renovation needs while maintaining affordable rents; and
  • Creating housing that is an asset to the community at large. 

Panelists also identified strategies that could increase the availability of moderate-income housing, including:  

  • Additional equity to facilitate the preservation of moderate-income housing assets;
  • Incentives for sustainable or “green” renovations to help maintain affordable rents;
  • New debt products for moderate-income housing assets; and
  • Increased coordination with state housing finance agencies.

FHFA will continue to work with the Enterprises and stakeholders to identify and assess further strategies that support moderate-income rental housing.

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By: Allison Charette

Policy Analyst, Division of Housing Mission and Goals

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