Like many communities, Presbyterian Homes & Services in Minnesota is always seeking new ways to recruit and retain front-line staff. Many of its communities have already been exploring various options, e.g., providing discounted rental property to employees that also is available to the local community.
In approximately 2004, Presbyterian Homes identified providing housing to staff as an area to explore due to the geographical location of one of their campuses – not rural, but not easily accessible to all employees. As a result, the arm of their organization that handles new project development and growth purchased 3 apartment buildings next to their Lake Minnetonka Shores campus in Spring Park, MN. They hired someone to manage the property, offered discounted rent in 1- and 2-bedroom units as a benefit, and, also made apartments available to members in the community.
In 2019, a small group of leaders within Presbyterian Homes dove more seriously into the housing option, recommending Presbyterian Homes develop a strategic plan around the housing model. They researched various alternatives (e.g., intergenerational living), developed pros and cons, and whether the ongoing investment aligned with their mission.
After surveying their front-line staff that year, Presbyterian Homes learned that nearly 2/3 would be interested in renting housing from the organization due to their current high housing costs. In fact, nearly 50% responded that they would need lower housing costs just to remain at Presbyterian Homes. Consequently, Presbyterian Homes decided that providing discounted housing for staff was a firm commitment of the organization.
- Presbyterian Homes did its homework – modeling different scenarios, along with the financial and legal implications.
- They determined that a 10% rent reduction and offering rates below market was a significant incentive compared to other rent costs in the area – and allowed their employees to save money.
Factors for Success:
- Be flexible: some potential rental properties may need only slight improvements, which is a far cheaper option than building your own.
- Start small: some of their campuses have housed employees temporarily in a vacant resident apartment in their community or apartments nearby. Other communities could consider a smaller investment, such as using a house nearby.
- Consider a range of possibilities: A percentage of apartments may be reserved for public apartments if needed.
- Set boundaries: while you are providing housing to some of your staff, ensure they can maintain privacy when they are not working.
- Learn from your employees: What are their expectations, what is affordable to them, and what type of transportation do they use, etc.
- Understand that while money is needed upfront – the rate of return on your investment is immediate.
- The number of open shifts has gone down because employees live close to the community.
- The tenure of employees has increased.
- Providing affordable housing has helped recruit international staff, and about 19% have participated in the rental housing program.
Need more information?
Jon Fletcher firstname.lastname@example.org