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Washington, D.C. – RealEstateRama – U.S. Representatives Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Jahana Hayes (D-CT) today introduced the Educator Down Payment Assistance Act to make homeownership more accessible and affordable for teachers. U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

The bill would establish a new grant program at the Department of Housing & Urban Development for local governments and local educational agencies to provide down payment assistance to full-time public-school educators and school staff who are first-time home buyers.

Home ownership is out of reach for many educators. Teachers spend nearly half of their salaries on rent and typical rent prices are unaffordable for entry-level teachers in 49 of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States. This makes saving up for a down payment on a home extremely challenging.

“We need to support the people teaching our kids. That’s why I’m proud to introduce the Educator Down Payment Assistance Act,” said Representative Swalwell. “Too often school districts, especially those in low-income areas, face a shortage of qualified early childhood and K-12 teachers because they are overworked and underpaid. This bill helps to provide teachers with some of the resources needed to afford homes in the neighborhoods where they teach. Thanking our teachers and incentivizing home ownership are causes we can all get behind and benefit from.”

“For years, teacher pay has remained stagnant while the cost of living has risen, leading many educators to take second jobs or consider leaving the profession, further contributing to the national teacher shortage,” said Representative Hayes. “The Educator Down Payment Assistance Act will make homeownership more affordable for educators by providing financial support to those looking to buy a home in the community where they teach. Programs and incentives like this are critical to attracting and retaining teachers in our most high need communities.”

“Corporations and hedge funds are buying up significant amounts of our rental housing stock, causing rent prices to go through the roof, and creating a severe affordable housing shortage. I’m taking action to crack down on corporate greed and help more working people move out of expensive rental housing and into homeownership,” said Senator Heinrich. “My Educator Down Payment Assistance Act will give educators and school staff a shot at owning a home in the communities where they teach — growing the middle class.”

“School staff should be able to make roots in the communities where they teach, which is a key factor in recruiting and retaining educators and addressing the shortages that shortchange our kids,” said Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers.” The Educator Down Payment Assistance Act will help districts access grant money that can aid teachers, paraprofessionals, librarians, and other school staff in home purchases, so they can afford to live in the neighborhoods where they teach. Affordable housing is one of the major barriers for teacher recruitment, and this bill could help create opportunities for more educators to take jobs in schools that need desperately need them, because they could finally afford to buy a home nearby.”

“Today’s competitive housing market often forces educators to live an hour or two hours from the communities they serve, increasing the risk of educators leaving the profession and contributing to educator shortages,” said Marc Egan, Director of Government Relations for the National Education Association. “Down payment assistance programs with targeted incentives help keep educators in schools and in our communities. NEA proudly supports the Educator Down Payment Assistance Act.

“Housing affordability is one of NAR’s top priorities, and we thank Representative Swalwell and Representative Hayes for introducing this innovative legislation,” said National Association of Realtors President Kevin Sears. “Down payment assistance can remove a primary obstacle to homeownership for millions of qualified Americans, especially deserving educators and those in fields of public service.”

The Educator Down Payment Assistance Act would:

  • Authorize the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to provide competitive grants to local governments and local educational agencies that provide down payment assistance to full-time public-school educators (teachers, principals, specialized instruction support personnel, librarians, counselors) who are first-time home buyers.
  • Provide grants up to $25,000 for educators who make up to 120 percent of the area median income or up to 180 percent of the area median income in a high-cost area.

Reps. André Carson (IN-07), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Darren Soto (FL-09), Marilyn Strickland (WA-10), Jill Tokuda (HI-02), Nikema Williams (GA-05) also cosponsor the legislation.

The following organizations support the Educator Down Payment Assistance Act: National Association of Realtors, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, National Housing Resource Center, Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District, and Landed.

A one-pager describing the Educator Down Payment Assistance Act can be found here.


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