A New Problem in Education: Affordable Housing for Teachers

apartment buildings

Educators across the country, from rural districts to swanky resort towns, all face a singular problem: finding affordable housing for themselves and their families. While teacher salaries vary from district to district, they are generally lower than those of other white-collar professions. With the national average starting teacher salary being $36,141, it makes it hard for these professionals to find affordable housing.

Rural districts are notorious for low teacher pay and an inability to attract talented educators. The low pay in these districts can put a decent residence out of a teacher’s financial reach; however, educators in high-paying often suburban or tourist areas, face a similar challenge. States with teacher salaries on the lower side include Arizona ($31,874), Colorado ($32,126), Idaho ($31,159), Maine ($31,835), Missouri ($30,064), Montana ($27,274), Nebraska ($30,844) and South Dakota ($29,851). When the federal poverty level for a family of four is $24,250 – it’s only natural for teachers with low salaries to worry about their families stability.

Homes within a wealthier community can cost upwards of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Although the median home price in the United States is $188,900, it’s still a struggle for teachers to live comfortably and support their families on an income south of $35,000. In short, there is a large gap between what teachers receive in wages and what they need to be financially stable enough to purchase a home.

Providing Teacher Housing: What Works?

Some school districts are tackling the housing salary problem by creating apartment communities exclusively for their educational professionals. While this does not solve the problem of low pay, it does temporarily lure potential candidates to rural areas or enable teachers to integrate into wealthier neighborhoods.

For example, a new teacher in Hertford County, North Carolina makes approximately $36,000 per year. When the district compared salaries to nearby rents, they learned the surrounding area only had 15 apartments that were considered affordable on a teacher’s salary. To bridge the gap between salary and rents, the district took matters into their own hands building a new development that offers lower rents for teachers and school employees. For the teachers and school district in Hertford County, it is a win-win proposition. Residents pay a below-market rent of $625 for a two bedroom apartment and the district uses the proceeds to pay back the zero-interest loan obtained to build it.

Unfortunately, the lure of low-cost housing can be temporary. These homes are most appealing to teachers who are new to the area or are just starting out. As young teachers marry and start families, they desire larger single-family homes; however, these professionals cannot afford median-priced homes in one-third of 200 metro areas surveyed from Baltimore to Los Angeles. Without affordable housing options, they will face a tough decision: leave the community or leave the profession.

Why Build?

The National Education Association expects that up to one-half of the nation’s teachers will retire in the next five to seven years deepening the existing teacher shortage. The promise of affordable housing can lure new candidates into teaching and enable them to live comfortably as a part of their community. Faced with these facts, communities are beginning to offer incentives to developers who are interested in building affordable, multi-family housing for their educational staff. Incentives include favorable financing, grant packages, and tax incentives to develop rental and owner-occupied housing developments.

If you’re interested in building a multifamily development for affordable housing, contact a general contractor you can trust to get the job done. Live Oak Contracting specializes in multifamily development communities with desirable amenities. Call us today to start your next development.

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