Oakland, CA – Community leaders in Oakland are confronting educational inequality by using $5 million in state funding to increase teacher housing and create an innovative marketplace website for discounted teacher housing.
The high cost of housing is consistently cited as the top reason Oakland public school teachers consider leaving the profession, exacerbating the challenge of recruiting and retaining great teachers, and disproportionately impacting teachers of color. But an innovative public-private partnership is providing Oakland educators access to millions of dollars in housing stipends and a new marketplace for discounted housing.
Launched in 2020, Teachers Rooted in Oakland, or TRiO, offers discounted housing and philanthropically-funded housing stipends to Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) teachers and teacher residents with a focus on Black, Latine, and other teachers of color in the hardest-to-fill subject areas. Now, thanks to a state budget request championed by Assemblymember Mia Bonta, the state of California is committing $5 million to TRiO to support more than 100 teachers over nine years, who will impact more than 40,000 students.
Stipends can be a powerful tool for improving housing affordability, but the TRiO team recognized that better access to the housing itself is essential for keeping representative teachers rooted in Oakland.
Launched in summer 2022, “TRiO Plus” is an Affordable Housing Marketplace where OUSD’s 2,000+ teachers can search and apply for apartments being offered at special discounted rates. Local landlords representing over 3,000 apartment units in Oakland have expressed interest in participating in the marketplace, and this summer 23 teachers signed leases at below-market rents with additional teachers securing lease renewals at a lower rate thanks to TRiO Plus.
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has championed these and other initiatives to improve educational opportunities for local students. “The very people we trust to inspire and prepare our students face immense barriers to finding comfortable, safe housing near their schools that they can actually afford. And our children are the ones who pay the price,” said Mayor Schaaf. “I’m proud a pilot from our office has grown into systemic change that supports Oakland’s beloved teachers.”
TRiO and TRiO Plus aim to bridge Oakland’s representation and achievement gap by getting more educators into the classroom who look like and share lived experiences with the students they teach. Research shows that students have stronger outcomes when taught by teachers who look like them and share their lived experiences.
“One of the strongest antidotes for the future is to recruit and retain teachers who are representative of the students they’re teaching and ensure they can afford to live in the communities where they teach,” according to Assemblymember Bonta.
“By keeping teachers who are Black and Brown rooted in Oakland, we can close the representation and achievement gaps,” said Tara Gard, OUSD’s Chief Talent Officer.
Property owners who put their units into TRiO Plus’s housing marketplace, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the state if not the country, benefit from not only finding great tenants for their apartments, but supporting the communities where they own properties. Some of the founding property owners and managers include Riaz Capital, Veritas, and 2B Living with others interested in joining, as well, to sustain and scale impact.
“We are deeply grateful for Riaz, Veritas, and 2B Living for believing in this work and partnering with us. They know that when our teachers and students win, our communities win,” said Kyra Mungia, co-founder of TRiO and Deputy Director of Education for Mayor Schaaf.
Both the original TRiO and TRiO Plus boast broad support from local and state governments, real estate owners and private philanthropy. Donors include Bank of America as a Signature Donor, as well as the Akonadi Foundation, LSP Family Foundation, the Hellman Foundation, The California Endowment, Tipping Point, Rogers Family Foundation, Teachers Housing Cooperative, and anonymous donors. TRiO is endorsed by Mayor Schaaf, Assemblymembers Buffy Wicks and Mia Bonta, Senator Nancy Skinner, Oakland Councilmembers, School Board Directors, teachers, the NAACP, the Latino Education Network, the Oakland Housing Authority and other local education advocates and community members.
“TRiO is a great example of the impact that public-private partnerships can make in creating quality affordable housing for those most in need,” said Lokelani Nevin, Community Relations Manager at Bank of America, who recently announced an additional $1 million in funding for TRiO.
As Anthony Noriega-Ochoa, a teacher at Oakland Tech and TRiO participant says, “The stipend and discounted housing mean that I don’t have to work a second job, and can put all my effort and time into improving my teacher skills and becoming a better teacher for my students.”
While the $5 million public investment is critical to ensure more than 100 teachers are served, there is still more work to do to scale up and make housing affordable for all teachers. Community members and organizations who wish to contribute to the fundraising efforts to support the program can visit the donation page or directly contact Kyra Mungia, the Mayor’s Deputy Director of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org to donate or become a partner.
To learn more about the Teachers Rooted in Oakland pilot click here.
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