Connecting Teachers With Affordable Housing
Affordable housing initiatives for teachers help ease the transition to a new job, keep teachers in the profession longer, and provide a supportive community.
November 9, 2023
Moving can be super stressful. Same for starting a new job. And moving for a new job? All the more so. Then there’s the expenses: first and last months’ rents, security deposit, new furniture, movers, and more. Always more.
For teachers relocating over the summer before the school year starts, there are other considerations as well, including the high cost of living in many places relative to their starting teacher’s salary. And the fact that their first paycheck won’t come until sometime early in the new semester–after they already need to have settled into their new place.
Luckily, there are a growing number of programs that work to make this transition easier for teachers by connecting them with affordable housing options, and even in some cases helping them meet other teachers who become their neighbors, friends, and mentors. Many of these initiatives were started and are run by Teach For America alumni–people who know well what this experience is like and what would most help teachers with this big life step.
Different Approaches to Affordable Housing
In Baltimore alone, two of these programs assist new TFA corps members and other teachers. Teacher Props, founded in 2017 by Peter DeCanadia, a 2013 TFA Baltimore corps member, connects new educators with high-quality affordable apartments. And Brown Stone Living offers home placement and listing services for professionals of color in the Baltimore area, connecting clients with affordable homes in diverse neighborhoods that reflect their identities. It was founded by three 2009 Baltimore Teach For America alumni: Kimberlyn Peal, Japera Parker, and Kendra Gray.
Another model is the Teacher Village, which started in Newark with an apartment complex attached to two Teach For America partner schools. Seventy percent of the 203 residential units are rented to educators, who receive $100 off their rent per month.
The Teacher Village launched a new location in Hartford in 2019, with plans to expand to cities like Chicago and New York. In Atlanta, a new Teacher Village is breaking ground to house current teachers and senior citizens who are retired educators, to create an environment of intergenerational mentorship.
A Built-In Community
Programs like these not only help educators settle in their new hometowns and ease their financial burden. Many also provide a built-in community for newcomers who may not know anyone in their new city–and, as new teachers, may have little time to get acquainted with their new surroundings as they prepare for the school year.
Newark’s Teacher Village has a venue space for residents called The Hub, where teachers have led summer camps, coding classes, and TED Talk-style seminars on education. And both Teacher Props and Brown Stone Living host events to introduce participants to each other and encourage connections between them.
“Teachers live in a community and they feel supported because there are other educators living the same life that they are,” said Teacher Village founder Ron Beit, a Teach For America Newark board member and real estate developer. “This exchange of ideas is really an incalculable value. We believe that ultimately this cluster of teachers is going to create innovation in teaching.”
Monique Magras moved to Baltimore from Massachusetts to become a teacher as part of that city’s 2021 Teach For America corps. She credits Teacher Props with making the move less stressful, having landed an apartment through the organization and developed a close friendship with one of her new roommates, Jared Brewer, a fellow Baltimore ’21 corps member. The two walk to school together, critique one another’s mock presentations, and study together for their Praxis exams.
“Having a roommate who is also a teacher adds to my strength as a teacher,” Magras said. “Having someone to bounce ideas off of, who’s going to be honest and real with me and practice with me, definitely helped me to become a better teacher and grow in my teaching practice.”
Between the financial, personal, and professional benefits of programs like Teacher Props and the Teacher Village, leaders and supporters of these and other initiatives aim to help make teaching a more sustainable profession for young people, allowing educators to remain in the jobs they love and in the communities they’re part of for years to come.
Read more about efforts to provide affordable housing to teachers. This story was based on reporting by Stephanie Garcia.