How a Colorado School District Tackles the Housing Crisis for Its Teachers?


The Eagle County School District in Colorado is one of the few in the country that has taken an active role in providing affordable housing for its teachers and staff. Facing a severe staffing shortage due to the high cost of living in the Vail Valley, the district has partnered with Habitat for Humanity and other organizations to build and manage housing units for its employees.


The Challenge of Retaining Teachers in a Resort Area

The Eagle County School District serves about 7,000 students in 17 schools, covering an area of over 2,000 square miles. The district is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, where ski resorts and outdoor recreation attract millions of visitors every year. However, the tourism industry also drives up housing prices, making it hard for locals to afford a decent place to live.

According to the district’s website, the average home price in Eagle County is over $1 million, and the median rent is over $2,000 per month. The average teacher’s salary in the district is about $54,000, which is not enough to cover the housing costs. As a result, many teachers struggle to find stable and affordable housing, and some have to commute long distances or live in substandard conditions.

The district estimates that it loses about 15% of its teachers every year, mostly due to the lack of housing options. This affects the quality of education and the continuity of relationships with students and families. The district also faces difficulties in recruiting new teachers, especially in specialized areas such as special education, math, and science.

The District’s Innovative Solutions for Teacher Housing

To address the housing crisis, the Eagle County School District has adopted a proactive and collaborative approach. Since 2016, the district has been working with Habitat for Humanity Vail Valley, a local nonprofit that builds and sells homes to low-income families. The district provides land and funding for the construction of duplexes and triplexes, and Habitat for Humanity manages the building process and the selection of the buyers. The homes are sold to district employees who meet the income and eligibility criteria and who contribute 250 hours of sweat equity. The buyers also receive a 30-year, zero-interest mortgage from Habitat for Humanity.

So far, the partnership has resulted in 18 homes for district employees, and 12 more are under construction. The district plans to build a total of 50 homes by 2025, using a $144 million bond that voters approved in 2016. The bond also includes funds for renovating and expanding schools, improving technology, and increasing security.

In addition to building new homes, the district also manages existing housing units that it owns or leases from other entities. The district has about 120 units of various types and sizes, ranging from studios to four-bedroom apartments. The units are rented to district employees at below-market rates, and the rent is deducted from their paychecks. The district also offers a housing stipend of $500 per month to employees who live outside the district boundaries to help with their commuting costs.

The Benefits and Challenges of the District’s Housing Program

The district’s housing program has been praised by many as a model for other school districts and communities facing similar housing issues. The program has helped the district retain and attract teachers, improve their morale and well-being, and enhance their connection with the students and the community. The program has also created a sense of pride and ownership among the teachers living in the district’s housing units and fostered a culture of collaboration and support.

However, the program also faces some challenges and limitations. The demand for housing still exceeds the supply, and the district has to prioritize the applicants based on their needs and preferences. The district also has to balance the costs and benefits of the program and ensure its financial sustainability and accountability. The district also has to deal with the legal and regulatory complexities of the housing market and the potential conflicts of interest that may arise from being both an employer and a landlord.

The district acknowledges that its housing program is not a silver bullet and that it cannot solve the housing crisis alone. The district calls for more involvement and investment from the local government, the private sector, and the community at large to create more affordable and diverse housing options for all residents. The district also hopes to share its experience and best practices with other school districts and organizations that are interested in replicating its model.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts