New affordable housing program for teachers unveiled by City of Oakland, OUSD

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Oakland city leaders unveiled a new affordable housing program Monday aimed at recruiting and retaining teachers in the city where they teach.

EdSource, a nonprofit publication covering education, found the Bay Area has the largest disparity between teacher salaries and rental housing costs in the entire state of California.

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"This teacher affordability pilot is addressing housing insecurity, it's addressing the quality of teachers for our children. It's addressing the issue of teacher attraction and retention," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff at a press conference.

The new affordable housing program was unveiled at the Paloma Apartments in Oakland.

Six student-teachers, working while obtaining certifications, now call the complex home. They only pay a small amount in rent to live there.

"For me what this really represents is equity being operationalized and really understanding the root of what it takes to have a long-term commitment to having teachers of color in this district," said Kyla Johnson-Trammell, Superintendent of Oakland Unified Schools.

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Rental listing website Zumper puts the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Oakland at $2,020 even with COVID-related rent drops. That would take up half of a first-year OUSD teacher's salary.

Malik Stead, a teacher at Rosevelt Middle School is one of the teachers living at Paloma.

"When I was choosing where I wanted to teach I could have chosen anywhere else but this pilot really made it economically feasible for me to teach in Oakland," said Stead.

He pays just a small amount of money in rent while the rest is covered by a subsidy from the property owner and donations from several charitable organizations.

No taxpayer money is being used for the pilot program, the city said.

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All of the teachers taking part in the program are in tough-to-recruit fields like special education or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).

"To not have that financial burden to have to worry about how I'm going to pay for rent, to have my own space-this beautiful apartment-it's really given me the opportunity to spend more time planning lessons, to spend more time building rapport with students," said Stead.

Along with the affordable housing options, the city is also testing out what's being called a "guaranteed income stipend" for new teachers who have completed their residency.

This program provides between $500 to $1,500 a month towards rent to make living where these educators teach a possibility.

A handful of teachers are said to be a part of that program.
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