How districts help teachers tackle housing costs

Leaders make housing assistance an increasingly common recruitment and retention strategy
By: | March 2, 2020
Student teachers get a stipend to help pay the rent on affordable teacher housing thanks to Rockford Public Schools near Chicago.Student teachers get a stipend to help pay the rent on affordable teacher housing thanks to Rockford Public Schools near Chicago.

New residents were ready to pay rent on affordable teacher housing the day that Buncombe County Schools in western North Carolina opened its teacher housing community in the summer of 2017.

Now, there’s a waiting list of teachers wanting to move in as housing prices rise around the thriving city of Asheville, where unemployment is low, says Assistant Superintendent Joe Hough.

“It all goes back to recruit and retention,” Hough says. “This gets the word out that this is a district that looks at the needs of new and young educators who are just trying to get started.”

Average rent on a 2-bedroom apartment in the area runs from $1,000-$1,200. In the district’s complex, Williams-Baldwin Court, a two-bedroom, two-bath unit costs $900 a month.

This could be especially attractive to two teachers willing to share a unit, Hough adds.


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The complex was a collaboration between the district, Buncombe County government, Asheville City Schools, a local charity and the state employee’s credit union.

Buncombe County Schools built a housing complex for teachers to help contend with rising housings on the thriving region around Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo: Buncombe County Schools Communications Department)

Buncombe County Schools built a housing complex for teachers to help contend with rising housings on the thriving region around Asheville, North Carolina. (Photo: Buncombe County Schools Communications Department)

One other benefit (aside from scenic views of the Great Smoky Mountains) is that the district will direct rent payments out of teacher’s paychecks.

Affordable student teacher housing reduces rents

Providing teachers with affordable housing is becoming a priority in a growing number of districts across the country.


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A California high school district just broke ground on 120 units to help teachers cope with the San Francisco Bay Area’s notoriously high housing prices, according to published reports.

The Jefferson Union High School District will offer the units to faculty and staff at below-market rent, it said on its Facebook page.

Other districts are helping student teachers pay the rent. Though housing prices have not been a major hurdle to retention at Rockford Public Schools near Chicago, the district provides 10 aspiring teachers with a yearly housing stipend of $750.

Rockford Public Schools near Chicago is the only district to provide an annual housing stipend and to offer a yearlong, paid student teaching program.

Rockford Public Schools near Chicago is the only district to provide an annual housing stipend and to offer a yearlong, paid student teaching program.

“Housing gives us an opportunity to provide an incentive to recruit and retain new teachers,” says Lanatasha Bell, the district’s director of recruitment and diversity recruitment. “The goal is to help create what we’re calling a teacher village, so our aspiring teachers can collaborate in both work and exploring Rockford together.”

In its area, Rockford is the only district to provide the stipend and to offer a yearlong, paid student teaching program, Bell says.

“We want our teachers to come to Rockford, fall in love with Rockford and make Rockford home,” Bell says. “We’re willing to explore whatever barriers or hurdles we can knock down to make that happen.”


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Matt Zalaznick is senior writer.