Some employers consider offering help with housing payments

Dive Brief:

  • One in 4 employers — most of them in the marketing, finance and information technology sectors — are considering offering housing assistance as an employee benefit this year, according to a survey from Pipersville, Pennsylvania-based insurance agency JW Surety Bonds.
  • In addition, the survey of more than 700 employees and 300 employers found that over 1 in 4 employees said they would consider switching jobs in order to gain assistance with their housing payments. Nearly 1 in 3 said they would prefer housing benefits over a pay raise, and 43% said they would prefer them instead of extra paid time off.
  • Only 13% of the employee respondents are already receiving housing benefits from their employers. However, those that do reported job satisfaction, good mental health and strong productivity at higher rates than employees that do not receive this aid, the report said.

Dive Insight:

Half of U.S. renters are considered cost-burdened, spending 30% or more of their income on rent, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. 

As of January, the national average rent in the U.S. is $1,710, according to Yardi Matrix. In order to pay this rent without being cost-burdened, a household would need to make a total of $68,400 per year. 

On average, employers that plan to start offering housing assistance in 2024 are looking at offering $6,201 per employee each year — enough to pay the national average rent for three and a half months. Enhancing employee well-being and attracting and retaining talent were among the main reasons for the shift, though 1 in 6 employers stated that they planned to offer the benefits to encourage employees to return to the office.  

One solution some employers have turned to is housing that, while open to the public, is primarily for employees of a certain company. Among them is the planned town of Snailbrook, devised by Elon Musk outside of Austin, Texas, for employees of his Boring and SpaceX companies, and Google’s North Bayshore, a planned development near Mountain View, California.

When asked, 44% of respondents said they would be open to living in a community of co-workers; managers were most likely to want to do so at 47% compared to employees at 43% and business owners at 38%. However, a report by the Center for American Progress cautions that company town living situations can lead to wage suppression and restrict job mobility.