Nov 6, 2019

Companies experiment with ways to help teachers afford housing

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A number of companies and educational institutions are trying to help teachers afford housing in communities that are dealing with skyrocketing prices that far exceed their paychecks.

Why it matters: Teacher salaries have not kept pace with rising housing costs, and several reports show new teachers are unable to afford rent in at least 50 major U.S. cities.

The big picture: Teachers would have to spend nearly 50% of their paycheck to afford the median price of rent in the U.S. — $1,483 per month — leaving little room for other expenses, according to data from Zillow.

What's happening: Experiments in new financing models and dedicated teacher housing are cropping up in some cities with high housing prices.

  • Microsoft's $500 million housing initiative in the Seattle suburbs is designed in part to assist those in public service jobs like teaching, fire fighting and nursing who can no longer afford to live near their jobs.
  • Landed, a startup in seven major cities including San Francisco, Denver and Washington, D.C., targets teachers by contributing a percentage of the down payment for a home in exchange for a piece of the eventual sale price down the road. It has helped 250 teachers so far.
  • Officials in Miami-Dade County proposed building a middle school with one floor designated as teacher housing, the Miami Herald reports.

In higher education, Stanford University has been leasing homes to its faculty at prices below market rates, KQED reports.

  • NAC, an architecture firm based in Seattle, touts how its campus designs for faculty housing is increasingly becoming a necessity in expensive areas.

Between the lines: Many businesses see investing in teacher housing as a net benefit because nearby school districts with thriving educator bases are valuable recruiting assets.

Meanwhile, several 2020 Democratic candidates have announced support for raising teachers' wages and better classroom resources.

  • Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders want to give teachers a base pay increase.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden offered up a plan to compensate teachers for extra work completed outside the classroom, such as mentoring or coaching.
  • Separately, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) introduced legislation that would put $603 million into new teacher salaries to boost the minimum pay to $47,500, the Tampa Bay Times reports. If approved, teacher pay in Florida will be one of the highest in the U.S., the governor's office said.

The bottom line: Even with pay increases, many teachers will still struggle to afford homes in the most expensive cities. The typical new homeowner in California’s largest metro areas must earn many times that of a local teacher’s salary, a Brookings Institution analysis shows.

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