Districts experiment with housing solutions to attract, retain teachers
- In light of a 2016 analysis by the Learning Policy Institute, which indicates that nearly 25% of former teachers reported that housing incentives might draw them back to the field of education, Edutopia shares a number of creative housing solutions that school districts across the nation have implemented.
- Proponents of housing solutions point out that helping with the affordable housing needs of teachers will help reduce teacher stress, save time for those who are commuting, and encourage teachers to live in the community, thus improving their impact on students and their likelihood of remaining at the school.
- However, critics of such proposals point out that these efforts aren’t scalable, can increase stress if the solution demands that they live in or near the schools in specialized facilities, and don’t account for teachers who don’t desire to put down permanent roots.
Business Insider noted in April that the average teacher in San Francisco can only afford about .07% of the houses on the market, despite receiving some of the highest salaries in the nation. However, the problem isn't limited to San Francisco. According to the article, a Trulia analysis of the 93 largest metro areas in the U.S. found that the percentage of houses affordable to teachers had only increased in eight locations over the past year, and that housing had become less affordable for educators in 84 of the cities during that time period. Their affordability metric was a monthly payment of no more than 31% of a paycheck.
The quest for affordable housing has led some cities to seek a variety of creative solutions, ranging from special housing developments to the creation of tiny houses. Also on the table: special financing arrangements or access to special loans.
However, the issue has backfired in some areas, leaving some critics to wonder if housing is the best recruitment tool. In Los Angeles, for instance, the school board created a housing project for teachers only to later discover that the educators were not financially qualified to live there. While the idea of providing housing solutions has merit, school districts must be aware of all potential hurdles involved before entering the real estate market.