Tackling Affordable Educator Housing: Beginning to Learn from National Initiatives

February 07, 2017 by Paula Davis

Back in June, DK first blogged about "Making Housing More Affordable for Denver Educators." The story hasn't changed much since then - the cost of living is still high, and so are the rates of teacher turnover in Denver. If anything, we've only heard more about the skyrocketing cost of housing here, and the salaries still aren't keeping up. Given that these issues have yet to abate on their own, we still believe that providing affordable housing for educators could be one way to allay at least one of the challenges that teachers face in Denver.

In fact, we've been having more and more conversations about affordable teacher housing in the past few months. There are ideas like Landed, a startup in the Bay Area trying to address teachers' ability to afford the down payment on a house. There are places like Casa del Maestro in Santa Clara, where the school district used underutilized land to build subsidized apartments for teachers. In St. Louis and Chicago, empty school buildings are being sold to developers who have agreed to include affordable educator housing. Nationally, other cities with high costs of living, as well as rural areas with low housing inventory, have taken steps to address the high cost of housing for educators

Seawall Development was responsible for some of the earliest cases of these kinds of developments, and some of the most highly lauded, too. They transformed a textile mill and a tin can factory in Baltimore into apartments with deep discounts for teachers, not only providing financial support, but also creating a supportive professional community among educators and collaborative office space for education-focused nonprofits.

Thibault Manekin is one of the co-founders of Seawall Development. He'll be joining us at Hot Lunch on February 10th to talk about Seawall's teacher housing models, and how they do so much more than just house teachers. Seawall Development has been incredibly responsive to the needs of Baltimore communities, and they've found ways to listen and to intentionally design "from the inside out." Their work has received many awards, including President Obama's Champion of Change Award, and been emulated across the country.

So, what would happen if Denver found a way to offer affordable educator housing? Could underutilized land or empty school buildings here be transformed into welcoming and affordable communities for teachers? Could these kinds of efforts help Denver recruit and retain great teachers? We're hopeful.

We're looking forward to learning from Thibault at Hot Lunch on February 10th. The lunch is currently full but if you would like to be placed on the wait list, you can express your interest here.


Photo courtesy of Oxford Mills

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