New program is aimed at helping teachers buy in Hawaii, but union urges caution

New program is aimed at helping teachers buy in Hawaii, but union urges caution

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Want to better understand why teachers are leaving the islands?

Just ask public school educators Juan Espinal, Kevin Argueta and Karina Hernandez.

They’re roommates with three others in Kona. Originally from the mainland, they love teaching in Hawaii but live together because of the high cost of living.

"That's tough. It really does add a lot of stress to my life. Rarely do I feel successful financially and that does bleed over into my professional career as well," said Espinal.

A new program is designed to address the problem.

On Tuesday, Gov. David Ige, schools Superintendent Kristina Kishimoto and leaders with the Hawaii Community Foundation and Hawaii Executive Conference announced a partnership with San Francisco-based company, Landed, which helps a buyer get a shared home.

"Our kumu are leaving for other professions, our kumu our leaving our state and the rest of us are watching and waiting and waiting. Today we take one step forward. Not the only step, but one good step," said Jack Wong, co-chair of Hawaii Executive Conference Change Education Committee and CEO of Kamehameha Schools.

The program provides half of the down payment of a home, up to $120,000 per family, for Department of Education faculty, staff and other employees.

Landed gets 25% of the home’s increased value or shares 25% of the home’s loss when a person sells or buys out. The shared agreement lasts a maximum 30 years.

“One of the first things we do in support is talk about how are they are going to get out of Landed support because we really want to see people graduate to being the full or sole owner if that’s what they want,” said Alex Lofton, Landed co-founder.

The Hawaii State Teachers Association sent a message to its members urging caution.

"This program may help a select few teachers, but we are urging caution to make sure that they look at the program carefully," Corey Rosenlee, HSTA president.

“Depending on how long you hold on to the home, especially in Hawaii, that would be considerable,” he added.

Espinal questions if he can afford it, but he's hoping to buy in.

“I have some more questions of myself that I have to ask, but seeing this opportunity as a start of a bigger conversation is really inspirational,” he said.

Landed will hold informational sessions for interested teachers. To sign up, www.Landed.com/events.

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