Why cities are pushing to help teachers afford homes

"Teach here, live here" is the thrust of efforts to build affordable housing for teachers in cities around the country. Many teachers who make middle-class salaries increasingly exit jobs in pricey urban areas for a better work-life balance in the suburbs. And that leaves inner-city schools without experienced educators.

Revitalizing a neighborhood

In Indianapolis, a project by the nonprofit Near East Area Renewal is nearing completion. Twenty-two homes developed from formerly vacant or abandoned houses are being made available for purchase to educators who qualify based on income. The houses will range in price from $136,000 to $193,000. Three have been sold so far. 

"Most starting first-, second-, third-year [Indianapolis Public School] teachers qualify to purchase these homes," NEAR Executive Director John Franklin Hay told CBS affiliate WTTV.

According to Hay, Indianapolis loses 400 public school teachers a year because more lucrative jobs are available in the suburbs. "Most IPS teachers start at $40,000," Hay said.

Through relationships with the city and an Indianapolis neighborhood housing partnership, NEAR was able access millions of dollars in tax credits and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding.

A village for teachers -- with the school built in

In Newark, New Jersey, the first phase of a Teachers Village comprising 204 apartments, three charter schools and more than 60,000 square feet of retail space opened last October. Around 70 percent of the residents are teachers who qualify based on income for a rent of 10 percent to 15 percent below market prices, NJ.com reports

The $150 million project, backed by Goldman Sachs (GS) in partnership with developer RBH, investor Nicolas Berggruen and the city of Newark, is aimed at fostering affordable housing for educators while boosting economic development.

Tackling affordability with creativity

In one of the least affordable housing markets in the country, Palo Alto, California, the City Council voted last week to put $3 million, together with $6 million from Santa Clara County, toward developing affordable housing for teachers.  

Less than 1 percent of homes in the San Francisco metro area are affordable based on the average K-12 teacher's salary, according to a recent study by Redfin, a real estate listing site. A Learning Policy Institute survey of California school districts that serve a quarter of the state's students found 80 percent had a shortage of qualified teachers for the 2017-18 school year. Two-thirds of those surveyed said providing support to create affordable housing for teachers would help reduce shortages. 

A site for affordable teacher housing planned for 231 Grant Avenue is expected to host 60 to 120 units, depending on building approval.

"It's never easy to develop workforce housing in such an expensive area, but we have the land, we have some funding available and we're finding the partners we need to make this work," Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian said in a statement. "With a little creativity and collaboration we can make progress."

WTTV's Mike Sullivan contributed reporting.