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2007-06-26 17:08:00

National Assn. of REALTORS Names Jacksonville 'Ambassador City'

The National Assn. of REALTORS® and the United States Conference of Mayors have designated Jacksonville, FL, a 2007 Ambassador City, and are honoring the city and the Northeast Florida Assn. of REALTORS® through the Ambassadors for Cities program.

The Ambassadors for Cities program was launched in 2003 by NAR and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, through its Council on the New American City, to encourage cities and local REALTOR® associations to form partnerships to promote homeownership and affordable housing.

The city of Jacksonville received the designation because of a new partnership between Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton and the Northeast Florida Assn. of REALTORS® to promote Employer-Assisted Housing benefits among local businesses. The partnership was kicked off last week at a meeting, where REALTOR® Chris Clemans of Cape May, NJ, chair of NAR’s Housing Opportunities Advisory Board, will present the Ambassadors for Cities plaque to NEFAR and Mayor Peyton.

“REALTORS® are community builders and are advocates for expanding housing opportunities for the workforce in Jacksonville and in cities across the nation,” said NAR President Pat V. Combs, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and vice president of Coldwell Banker-AJS-Schmidt. “Employer-assisted housing programs, like those promoted by NEFAR and the Mayor, help employees experience the joys of homeownership, reward businesses with increased recruitment and retention, and bring stability and social and economic benefits to our communities.”

Like Americans in many U.S. cities, low- to moderate-income families and first-time homebuyers in Jacksonville are finding it increasingly difficult to purchase homes. To combat this trend, Mayor Peyton and NEFAR joined forces and are reaching out to the city’s employers to educate them on the benefits of establishing employer-assisted housing benefits for their employees. The EAH benefits can include home buying workshops, individual homeowner counseling and financial incentives such as forgivable loans and closing cost assistance.

The goal of the partnership is to help the city’s teachers, firefighters, police and other municipal, retail, and office employees buy a home of their own. They also hope to establish Jacksonville as a homeownership friendly city, an incentive for businesses considering relocation or expansion to Jacksonville. Leading by example, the city of Jacksonville is expected to announce today that it is working to establish an EAH program for city employees and will hold home buying workshops later this summer.

As part of the partnership, REALTORS® in Jacksonville will be trained through NAR’s “Home from Work” initiative, which teaches and encourages REALTORS® to work with local employers to develop EAH benefits. Realtors®  will also be trained on local, state and national affordable housing programs. Armed with this information, REALTORS® will be ready to approach local employers to promote housing benefits for the area’s workforce.

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