Home-buyer assistance

More employers offer EAH programs

In an effort to attract and retain employees, some U.S. companies have been offering workers a piece of the American Dream. Given today’s tough hiring market, that dream may soon become reality for more employees.

The 2000 Benefits Survey conducted last year by the Society for Human Resource Management revealed that relatively few employers offered workers employer-assisted housing (EAH) programs. Only six per cent gave mortgage assistance, while three per cent provided help with down payments.

Those numbers are expected to rise, according to an article in The Christian Science Monitor. Eighteen months ago, Fannie Mae, the largest provider of home mortgage funds in the U.S., increased its efforts to help employers develop EAH programs. Even with the economic slowdown, Fannie Mae has worked with 150 companies since then to create EAH packages.

Not all EAH programs are alike. An EAH program may take the form of forgivable loans, interest-free loans, matched savings accounts, or home buyer education programs.

A forgivable loan may come with strings attached. The employer may require the worker to spend a certain period of time – five years, for example – with the company before the loan is forgiven, or the worker may be required to buy a home within a certain area.

The strings don’t seem to matter to employees, however. EAH programs tend to have the added benefit of boosting morale, along with aiding in recruitment and promoting employee loyalty.

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