Kansas City schools rent homes to teachers starting at $400 a month to recruit more amid a national shortage

Christian Robles:

Alexandria Millet found a way to sharply cut her rent this year and move closer to her job at Central High School in Kansas City, Mo.—live in a duplex built to house teachers.

A 10th-grade English and journalism instructor, Millet, 24 years old, now pays $400 a month to live with two other teachers in a home provided through a partnership between Kansas City Public Schools and Teachers Like Me, a nonprofit building housing to help recruit Black teachers.

KCPS is one of several school districts across the country—in urban and rural areas from California to West Virginia and Florida—that are trying to use affordable housing to hire and retain teachers amid a nationwide shortage of both. The efforts join state and federal programs that have for years provided teachers grants and down payment assistance to purchase homes.

“Not having to pay high rent and having a program that supports you specifically in terms of housing” made it easier to stay in Kansas City, Millet said, as she wanted to do after working there a year as an AmeriCorps volunteer.

The low-cost housing “made it come together,” said Millet, who is from Milwaukee. She earns about $48,000 a year in a metropolitan area with a typical monthly apartment rent of $1,437 in July, according to Zillow estimates.

Teachers Like Me opened its first duplex in February and has plans to house up to 25 teachers, said Trinity Davis, the organization’s founder and a former Kansas City school administrator.