HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A measure that would establish housing vouchers for teachers in hard-to-staff schools is moving through the state Legislature.
If approved, qualified, full-time teachers in public and charter schools would get housing vouchers monthly to help pay for rent or mortgage payments.
Senate Bill 12 has already passed the Senate and is now before the House.
It doesn’t yet include a maximum amount for the vouchers or spell out which teachers would qualify.
The proposal comes as the state Education Department continues to grapple with a teacher shortage at Hawaii schools, especially in rural areas and in specific content areas.
In the 2018-19 school year, for example, Hawaii schools are short more than 1,000 qualified teachers.
The Hawaii State Teachers Association notes that teacher attrition is particularly acute in high-poverty areas.
Of 19 special education teachers hired in the Nanakuli-Waianae complex last school year, just one had a special education license, the teachers union reports.
“A housing voucher program would assist teachers in attaining sustainable and stable residency, while staving off crushing debt burdens,” said HSTA President Corey Rosenlee.
“It would also make the teaching profession more attractive by increasing educators’ purchasing power through the subsidization of rent and mortgages in the state with the nation’s highest housing costs.”