Courtesy of Holland Public Schools
- Teachers in Holland, Michigan, are having a difficult time finding affordable places to live.
- The school district is now offering grants to qualifying staffers to lower its turnover rate.
- Lillian Snoeyink, the first person to get a grant, said the $25,000 will help her afford a home.
A teacher from Holland, Michigan, just received a check for $25,000 to help her afford to buy a house.
Living and working in Holland, a city of about 34,000 that sits on the shore of Lake Michigan between Chicago and Detroit, has become increasingly difficult for teachers. With Holland’s typical home costing around $291,000 and the average teaching salary coming in near $43,000, based on Glassdoor estimates — not to mention higher borrowing costs— many educators are priced out of the real-estate market.
The school district is trying to change that by awarding grants to teachers so they can afford homes in the community where they teach.
Lillian Snoeyink, 23, is the first grant recipient, receiving a check in January from the Holland Public Schools.
“It’s no secret that teachers don’t choose to become an educator because of the money,” Snoeyink told Insider. “Teachers choose to become a teacher because they have a passion for education and a love for their students. However, with the current housing market and prices, it can be very difficult for teachers to compete.”
In many parts of the country, housing has become so expensive that teachers are struggling to find affordable homes. The crux of the issue is that educators are underpaid and their wages have not kept up with higher home prices and rents. There are many programs — from the national Good Neighbor Next Door to the Homes for Texas Heroes to Florida’s Hometown Heroes — geared toward helping teachers and other essential workers afford homeownership.
Although these programs are not a solution to the nation’s affordable-housing crisis, they’re helping make homeownership more attainable for some educators.
Snoeyink can now afford to house hunt
While Snoeyink is still on the hunt for the perfect home, she said that Holland’s Teachers Live Here program is a “blessing” and will help make her homeownership dreams come true.
“This grant has a huge impact on my homebuying search,” she said. “Due to this program, I can look at homes priced higher than what I would have previously considered. I’ll finance less, which has a huge impact on my monthly mortgage, and saving money on the down payment gives me more money for renovations.”
Holland Public Schools launched the grant program in January after struggling to attract and retain educators. Financed through the Holland Educational Foundation, the program aims to give down-payment assistance to up to 10 educators each academic year — with priority going to first-time homebuyers.
“A lot of our teachers buy homes outside of the community and they might be commuting 30 miles to work,” Nick Cassidy, the superintendent of Holland Public Schools, told Insider. “I think the program will help us keep teachers plugged into our community.”
Holland Public Schools is not the only school district taking drastic measures to help employees afford housing. In Milpitas, a city located at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay, the school district has come up with a radical solution: asking local families to take in cash-strapped teachers.
“We’ve lost out on some employees that we tried to recruit because once they see how much it costs to live here, they determine that it’s just not possible,” Cheryl Jordan, the superintendent for Milpitas Unified School District, told NBC. Jordan said the program has received interest from many respondents offering to house teachers.
Whether it’s teachers in Holland or Milpitas or a snowplow driver in Colorado, local officials are finding new ways to help area workers afford homes.