NEWTON, MA — A housing shortage is impacting employers' ability to hire in Newton. The members of the Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce have noticed it for a while. Now, chamber is hoping to draw some attention to the issue.
"Finding and keeping workers have become a full blown crisis," said Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce President Greg Reibman to a room full of business owners at the annual spring breakfast Friday. He pointed to a stat from the economic development commission who found that 85 percent of those of us who live in Newton commute out and 85 percent of workers in Newton commute in.
"That's absolutely astonishing," said Reibman
At the event Friday, the chamber was set to announce the beginning of a campaign calling attention to how the region's housing shortage has created a hiring crisis for area employers.
In a recent survey conducted by the chamber, 61 percent of its members said "attracting and retaining workers" is their number one business challenge.
Workforce worries were even more pronounced for the market's largest employers, with 89 percent of Newton and Needham businesses with 100 or more employees saying staffing would be critical to their 2019 success.
Seana Gaherin, owner of Dunn-Gaherin's told Patch recently in the decades since she opened shop in Newton, it's been more and more difficult to find and retain workers. She attributes that to a combination of lack of affordable housing nearby and for anyone coming from out of town lack of easy transportation.
"Ask almost any business, they'll tell you the same," she said.
"Transportation and housing are two of our region's top public policy challenges and are absolutely interconnected," Reibman said. "There's no way we can effectively combat either problem alone."
Watch business leaders share what it's like to hire and retain staff right now:
At the Chamber's Spring Business Breakfast, one of the chamber's two major breakfast gatherings of business and civic leaders within our communities, Mike Kennealy, secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Baker Administration and Robin Chase, co-founder and former CEO of ZipCar were set to speak.
More to come.
Patch reporter Jenna Fisher can be reached at Jenna.Fisher@patch.com or by calling 617-942-0474. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram (@ReporterJenna).