- The Los Angeles Unified School District has partnered with developers to turn vacant, district-owned properties into affordable housing, but while teachers were the original target audience for the apartments, they make too much money to qualify for the units.
- The Los Angeles Times reports the district’s service workers have been grateful beneficiaries, with cafeteria workers, bus drivers and special education assistants among those renting 121 of the 156 affordable units in Gardena and Hollywood.
- The original goal of the housing project was to reduce turnover among entry-level teachers, but even their starting salary of about $50,300 per year is too high for affordable housing, which the federal government limits to those making between 30% and 60% of the area median income and, on the other end of the spectrum, leaves many service workers earning too little to qualify.
The income limits on affordable housing are set so developers can qualify for subsidies from the federal government. Without them, the investments are not always seen as safe enough or worthwhile. St. Louis is among the districts considering new affordable housing options to help teachers. That project is in its earliest phases and many of the specifics are still under discussion.
Teacher housing is something many districts across the country are worried about. Relatively high teacher turnover is one of the most significant contributors to the teacher shortage, and if housing is a key reason teachers are moving out of the field or out of the community, it makes sense to address the problem. Districts should be careful during the planning phases, however. Affordable housing laws are clear. Polling teachers about their family financial situations early is one way to prevent surprises based on assumptions about starting salaries and other qualifications.