A housing development that was built to attract and retain teachers in rural Mississippi has failed to serve that purpose for the district, which still struggles with teacher shortages, according to an article by The Hechinger Report.
The small duplex, which was built 17 years ago as part of the state’s Critical Teacher Shortage Act of 1998, used to be a home for local teachers but is now inhabited by all non-teachers, after proving to be too expensive for educators. According to the article, some teachers found that despite the available housing, it was not enough to lure them to the town, which lacks grocery stores, restaurants, and shops.
“It was something we were very hopeful about at the time,” said Tracy Mims, the mayor of Webb, the town where the housing development was built. “It sounded like it would give teachers a chance to participate more in the community -- to really be here and be engaged.”
Nationwide, rural communities have attempted to build housing to recruit and retain educators, but with varying success. A rural community in South Carolina that planned to build lofts for teachers never saw the project come to fruition, but in Alaska, the state has helped fund more than 300 housing units for teachers. In North Carolina, a credit union’s foundation provided zero-interest loans to build teacher housings. In McDowell County, West Virginia, the Ameriacn Federation of Teachers has led a group of nonprofits and companies to revitalize the county. One of the efforts has included the development of a teacher village, which will offer apartment units, a coffee shop, and a common area.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rural Education blog.