Mayor Harry Rilling joined members of community and economic development firm APD solutions at the Hilton Garden Inn to discuss a Workforce Housing Implication Plan (WHIP) with Norwalk employers that would help employees who do not live in the area find housing in Norwalk.
"I'm excited about the possibility of helping people that can buy their own homes in Norwalk because I know if people buy homes, the Norwalk economy will increase, people will come and build and develop, and crime will go down."
The plan provides local governments and employers with the assistance to encourage homeownership near work. If an employer implements the program, a worker will receive a monetary gift of equivalent to 5 percent of the purchase price of a home, from the city in collaboration Ginnie Mae, Freedom, US Bank, and Raymond James.
"If five percent of the purchase price amount can be delivered, and delivered in a way that the homeowner isn't forced to pay it back, the homeowner has a greater chance of sustaining that homeownership," said Chapman Walsh of case studies.
APD Solutions CEO Vaughn Irons says studies conducted reveal less than 25 percent of Norwalk residents actually work in Norwalk, which he says contributes to daily traffic and congestion problems.
"We know that it will strengthen many industries," said Irons. "The building industry, the real estate industry, the retail industry, but we're not asking you to come out of your pocket. We're asking you to be a stakeholder to help us move this pilot forward."
The studies presented show an average home in Norwalk costs a little over $447,000. In order to afford that home, a household must earn about $119,000, but the average Norwalk family makes just over $70,000, an affordability gap, Irons says, similar to that of Washington D.C., Bethpage, New York and Providence, Rhode Island.
The program is approved by IRS and the Treasury Department. Rilling says if implemented public and private partnership is essential.