Two Birds, One Stone: Arizona Tackles Housing and Educator Shortages Together

Arizona is deploying the “tiny house” craze to address the ongoing educator and housing shortages at the same time.

Miniature house next to a set of keysArizona — like the rest of the country — is struggling to hire and retain public school educators and to provide enough stock of affordable housing to those educators and other residents. In a creative effort to tackle both problems at one time, one school district is leveraging federal funds to build “tiny homes” to attract potential educators … and to house them.

Arizona’s Chino Valley Unified School District is using federal money to build 10 tiny home studio units (each will be 400 square feet) on a vacant lot behind an elementary school in the district — less than a five minute commute. A $500,000 grant from the Coconino County and Yavapai County education service agencies.

Teachers who occupy the units will only pay roughly $550 per month – well below the market rate for rent. The tiny studio homes are expected to be finished by early fall of this year and are designed to be transitional housing “and a way to lure educators to their schools over other districts across the country.”

Local news outlet Fox10 Phoenix reported on the growing educator and housing crisis in the area:

Over a hundred miles north of Phoenix, the small town of Chino Valley is also being affected by rising house and rental prices. The salaries just don’t cut it, especially for teachers in the school district.

The average cost for a home in Chino Valley is over $400,000.

He [the district superintendent] explains the district’s turnover for teachers is about 15-25% every year, so that’s why the district came up with this unique way of addressing the shortage.

Notably, local schools Superintendent John Scholl also factored public works infrastructure into the district’s tiny homes plan — a growing concern for MACo and Maryland counties regarding housing development. “Our sewer, electrical infrastructure, fire lanes, things like that are all part of the project in addition to the 10 tiny homes,” Scholl said.

Learn more about the project.