IN plan's backers hope homeownership boosts teacher retention, recruitment
Monday, February 12, 2024
Homeownership continues to be out of reach for many Americans but one Indiana program is helping educators achieve the dream in hopes of boosting recruiting and retention efforts in the state.
The Educate ME Foundation helps remove barriers for Black teachers to achieve homeownership through its Teacherville initiative.
Marshawn Wolley, adviser for the African American Legacy Fund of Indianapolis which funded the project, said realizing the dream of homeownership for educators is difficult.
"Teachers, in order for them to be able to get into a home, that's probably going to be around $165,000 to $175,000 based on the average teacher salary," Wolley explained. "Right now, the average home is going for about $250,000. And so, there's a gap."
The Indiana Education Employment Relations Board said the average annual salary of an Indiana teacher for the 2022-2023 school year was just under $59,000. The initiative and the nonprofit Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership provides financial literacy and credit-management training to future homeowners.
The Martindale Brightwood Community Development Corporation also partners with the initiative. The nonprofit identifies safe and affordable housing sites in distressed neighborhoods. Wolley pointed out the ability for the Black community to come together and take care of itself is a key part of the program.
"That is the tradition of Black philanthropy," Wolley observed. "We have relied on one another in order for us to survive and even thrive. Black philanthropy has always been in the community; we've always been doing this."
The corporation said it plans to build six new homes before the end of 2024. Wolley is optimistic the program could expand to include members of law enforcement and others facing hurdles entering the challenging homebuying market. According to the Urban Institute, nearly 66% of Indiana homeowners are younger than age 65.
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