Couple Builds Homes For Their Employees

Like the song says, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.” Now, thanks to a pair of forward-thinking business owners in County Kerry, Ireland, three families will be moving into company subsidized housing in plenty of time to see Santa come down the chimney — and that’s just for starters. Patricia and Tony Walsh, owners of Walsh Color Print, employ nearly 120 people whose work requires a specialized skill set. Since they were unable to find enough local job candidates to fit the bill, a good part of their workforce hails from other European countries. Unfortunately, with housing options both limited and expensive in the area, many employees simply couldn’t afford to save for places of their own while paying steep rent. For the husband and wife team, the answer seemed obvious: Find a way to offer an affordable housing alternative as an incentive to keep their employees in the family fold. So, the couple decided to build tracts of not-for-profit homes on land already owned by their company. The site can accommodate 70 units, 20 of which have been earmarked for company workers. The 1,000-square-foot attached homes are sold to employees at about $36,500 below market value. To offset costs, the other 50 units are set to be sold at full value on the open market. The couple notes that there is a informal agreement with employees who purchase homes to stay with the company for at least 10 years after moving in. While they see the measure as a way to ensure a steady workforce, they also believe home ownership will be a key factor in securing a stable future for their employees when they eventually retire. Three of the units are complete and construction for the next tract of houses is scheduled to break ground next month.