After helping a half dozen teachers move into homes within its district, Holland Public Schools is expanding its Teachers Live Here grant program.
“Let’s be real. That’s the toughest thing for anyone — if they’re a teacher or not — is coming up with that downpayment, cash ready to go. And this takes that out of the equation,” HPS Superintendent Nick Cassidy says. “The housing market is a considerable drain on every employer in Holland.”
The grant program — funded entirely by an anonymous donor — kicked off with a shortened initial cycle in January. Seven HPS teachers were each awarded a $25,000 grant for the down payment of a home within 15-miles of the district.
The second round of Teachers Live Here grants is now underway at Holland Public Schools
. The grant program aims to help 10 teachers each year to move into the district or nearby.
In response to a 2.8% increase in the consumer price index in the region since the start of 2023, the second round of Teachers Live Here grants will increase to $25,700. Grantees who buy a home within the school district boundaries will receive an additional $2500 toward paying mortgage closing costs. HPS hopes to give an additional 13 Teachers Live Here grants before June 2024.
“The first year of Teachers Live Here confirmed for us the reality of a difficult housing market for buyers in the city of Holland,” HPS Superintendent Nick Cassidy says.
Of the seven teachers awarded in the first cycle of the Teachers Live Here grant, six have closed on the purchase of a home and three have purchased homes within walking distance of their school.
Christine Boatman stands in front of the house she bought with the help of the Holland Public Schools' Teachers Live Here grant program.
“The Teachers Live Here grant created an opportunity for me that was not possible otherwise. I feel very blessed to own a home within the city of Holland — it's a fun city to be in! Also, living so close to my school will allow me to be a more active member of the community and show support for my students outside of the classroom,” grantee and Holland High School math teacher Christine Boatman says.
Boatman bought a home a short distance from the high school earlier this year. She and her husband wanted to move to the city for some time, but finding a house, especially one they could afford, was difficult.
“It was honestly perfect timing, because it gave me the chance to buy a house and put down roots in Holland,” she says.
Helping teachers live among the people they serve and to put down roots in the community are the biggest benefits of the program, Cassidy says.
The donor initially committed to seven years of grants with possible extensions.
“They value teachers and feel that we, as a community, we need to value and appreciate them more,” Cassidy says.
Grantees need to be employed with HPS for at least one semester before applying. The program, Cassidy says, also helps draw new teachers to the district. HPS has received much more attention at education job fairs. This year, 40 new teachers have joined HPS, and several reached out to find out when they are eligible, he says.
“We have several of them who are going to be taking advantage of it as soon as they can,” Cassidy says.
Grantees must remain with the district for a minimum of five years.
For details about the program, eligibility requirements or an application for Teachers Live Here visit teacherslivehere.org
. HPS administrators and members of the Holland Educational Foundation meet each month to review applications.
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