Teachers throughout the Eastside have been slowly but surely seeing small rises in their salary. For many, however, it may still not be enough to afford a shorter commute to school.
Bellevue School District (BSD), one of the most affluent districts in Washington, is struggling to retain quality teachers and staff due to the high costs of houses in the Bellevue area. A median home value in and around Bellevue is close to $1 million, meaning it would take the average BSD employee longer than 30 years to afford a 20-percent down payment.
According to BSD Superintendent Dr. Ivan Duran, more than 65 percent of BSD staff live outside of the Bellevue area and commute on average an hour or longer to and from school.
The district is working to change that.
BSD announced its partnership with Landed, a down payment assistance and financial wellness program aimed at helping public school teachers and staff buy homes. BSD is the first school district in the Seattle area to partner with Landed.
The program provides half of the down payment on a home, up to $120,000 per family, in exchange for a portion of the change in the value of the home when the home is sold or refinanced. Landed makes its return investment when the home is sold or the homeowner buys out the investment. For giving the homeowner half of the down payment, the homeowner will share 25 percent of the investment gain or loss with Landed.
Any gains from the assistance will be re-invested to support an ever-growing number of educators.
“As the cost of housing in Bellevue continues to rise, too many of our educators are finding it harder to afford homes in the area,” Duran said in a press release. “We believe Landed will be a valuable solution to help improve school recruitment and retention by providing educators with a new option to help make homeownership more accessible.”
Co-founded by Sammamish High School alum Alex Lofton, the program will be available to all teachers, administrators and staff who have worked for the district for at least two years.
“Educators are pillars of the community,” Lofton said. “And I think it’s important to help others deal with some of life’s basic needs such as owning a home.”
Since the company’s launch in 2015, Landed has assisted more than 100 educators and staff purchase homes in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Denver.
Erika Currier, a preschool teacher at Stevenson Elementary, said the partnership will help teachers and staff like her become first-time homeowners like they’ve always dreamed of being.
“It’s really hard for teachers to enjoy their lives and work when their commute time takes so much out of their already busy day,” she said. “I want to live in the community that I serve and build a stronger community here, and things like [Landed] make living in this district a much more possible reality.”
Many teachers and staff are considering or are in the process of working with Landed to purchase a home in the Bellevue area.