Bay Area teachers getting help with housing, down payments

ORINDA, Calif. (KGO) -- One of the major issues Bay Area teachers face is trying to afford a place to live that's anywhere near the districts where they teach. While teacher salaries in California are among the lowest in the country, the cost of housing here is one of the highest.

She's doing what she loves in the highly-rated Orinda School District. But until recently, math teacher Ashley Appel couldn't figure out how to buy a house,anywhere near where she worked.

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"It's been quite a challenge," said the 35-year-old. But now, she and her husband are taking advantage of a program called "Landed," a San Francisco-based startup that will match, dollar for dollar, whatever amount the Appels can come up with for a down payment.

"My husband and I are in the process of looking at a few homes right now," she said. "And just knowing that we would need 20 percent to make a down payment, we would never be able to afford that on our own."

Carolyn Seaton, the superintendent of the Orinda Union School District, explains, "We've had a great deal of interest. I think over 33 of our teachers have inquired with Landed."

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Seaton says it's an ongoing challenge, trying to find a way to attract top teachers without being able to pay them a salary that allows them to live where they work.

"I know that they appreciate opportunities like this that recognize it's not easy for them and we don't want, not only for them to leave Orinda certainly, but we don't want them to leave the profession," said Seaton.

In Orinda, the average teacher makes $75,000 per year. The median home price in Contra Costa County is just under $600,000. A 20 percent down payment would be $120,000.

The numbers are similar in districts and cities throughout the Bay Area, where home prices far outpace teacher salaries.

That's where Landed comes in.

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"There are no monthly payments on the support," explained Nikki Lowy, Director of Business Development and Partnerships at Landed. "But what that means is it's an investment, so if the home does well, we share in that profit and if they have to sell it at a loss, we share in that loss as well."

Funded mostly by philanthropists, like the Chan-Zuckerberg Foundation, Landed is now providing assistance in 80 districts in California, most of them in the Bay Area.

Ashley Appel is now renting in Oakland. Thanks to Landed, she hopes to buy a home there soon, less than 10 miles from Orinda.

"I'm very grateful for it cause I feel like it's something that is going to be helpful for us and we're going to be able to buy a home and the stay in this area," said Appel.

Take a look at more stories about the Bay Area teacher crisis.
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