Teacher Banks Future on Affordable Housing Bill

Ashleigh Clark
Ashleigh Clark
Nolan Clark
Nolan Clark

AIEA (KHNL)--A military couple says they're banking their future on a bill that would give teachers an 80% discount on homes.

The president of the Hawaii State Teachers Association came up with the idea. Roger Takabayashi says the point is to address the state's teacher shortage which he says is at a critical stage.

The bill would affect teachers at all public schools like Puuhale Elementary.

For one couple, Ashleigh and Nolan Clark, time is ticking. Next year, Nolan is leaving the military which means no more housing allowance. Ashleigh is a Kindergarten teacher at Nanaikapono Elementary. They can't afford a home in Hawaii so she's hoping a bill to offer public school teachers affordable housing will help.

"That's going to be our huge deciding factor if we stay out here or not. Hopefully the bill will be passed," said Ashleigh.

Education leaders say the couple's story reflects a problem plaguing Hawaii schools - a teacher shortage so severe, they have to replace more than 1500 teachers every year. The common denominator - Hawaii's high cost of living.

"Even if both of us are working full-time, it's still a difficult thing to do, to pay mortgage so right now, we're probably going to have to move come September," says Nolan, an E5 Staff Sergeant for the Air Force.

Under the bill, the state would delve into real estate - buy homes, then sell them to teachers at 20% of the current market value. If the value goes up, the state would earn 80% of the profit. The rest goes to the teacher.

"Real upset of it doesn't go through because I would hate to leave this place just because of expenses," said Ashleigh.

Expenses many teachers like Ashleigh hope to alleviate so they can continue to call Hawaii home.

Takabayashi plans to introduce the bill when the Legislature goes back in session in January.