Looking for an edge in attracting talent? Give ’em a reasonable place to live

Employers, led by school districts, are using affordable housing to combat labor shortages.

Why is the US grappling with 36.5k+ teacher vacancies? Part of the problem is basic arithmetic.


Per Axios, in 15 of the largest US cities, since 2017:

  • The cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment has increased 22%
  • The average home price has increased 40%
  • Starting teacher salaries have only risen 15%

So, if you’re living on a teacher’s salary and seeking an affordable place to live… good luck.

  • Very un-fun fact: It’d take the average teacher in San Francisco ~30 years to save up enough money for a down payment on a median-priced home.

One possible solution?

School districts, tired of struggling to attract talent, are literally building in a huge perk: their own affordable housing units.

  • Districts in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas are among those that have either built, are building, or are planning to build housing complexes for its teachers.
  • Some are tapping federal grants, others are partnering with nonprofits; many are using their own unused (tax-free) land.

While lagging compensation remains a major issue independent of housing, one Bay Area teacher living in district-provided housing told Axios it’s been “a game-changer.”

Can this work for other industries?

The answer is yes, because it already does.

  • By housing ~50% of its 75 employees, a Wisconsin dairy farm brought its turnover rate to under 1%. (For context, the national industry average was 38.8% in 2019.)
  • Colorado is spending $6.5m on employee housing to ease its snowplowing labor shortage.

One such development in Florida even found a way to win over angry “not in my backyard” neighbors: added security. (A new adjoining 24-unit apartment building will exclusively house sheriff’s office employees.)

Related Articles

Get the 5-minute news brief keeping 2.5M+ innovators in the loop. Always free. 100% fresh. No bullsh*t.