NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— A new effort is underway to recruit and keep teachers in New Orleans, and one way to do that could be helping teachers buy homes.

“How can we address the needs of our educators, and provide incentives during the recruitment and retention phase?” said Tyra Brown with the New Orleans Office of Community Development.

The city’s answer is the launch of the Teacher Homeownership Program.

According to Mayor LaToya Cantrell, “Eligible teachers can receive up to $65,000 for down payment assistance and as well as $5,000 in closing costs.”

The city has allocated a total of $1.5 million to the program and it comes at a time school systems are facing a crisis in recruiting and retaining educators. Teachers who teach grades K-12 along with behavioral health professionals within the Orleans Parish school system can take advantage of the program but must remain in the school system for 3 years, and the house must remain a residence for 10 years.

“We’re losing up to 30% of our educators from the profession every year,” explained Alex Jarrell with New Schools for New Orleans. “The data is overwhelmingly clear that the quickest way to improve public schools is to have a great teacher.”

Teachers exiting the profession cite compensation, and their failure to obtain a home is key to the decision to leave. The program also includes behavioral health professionals and early childhood educators within the Orleans Parish School System.

“We are really committed to making sure that there are viable pathways for all New Orleanians to be economically secure, and housing is one of the key factors in economic security,” added Thelma French of nonprofit Total Community Action, a partner in the program.

PROGRAM GUIDELINES

  • Applicants must be currently employed as an early childhood instructor, K-12 teacher in a public school, or school behavioral health professional in New Orleans  
  • Demonstrate a minimum of three years of teaching or education experience at the time of loan application  
  • Demonstrate continued employment in education for at least 3 years
  • Loan is subject to penalties and other claw-back provisions if applicant leaves the teaching/education profession within 3 years of application  
  • Meet the income guidelines established for the program (listed below)
  • Qualify for a first mortgage with a City Approved Lender who will determine eligibility for the city’s forgivable second mortgage  
  • Agree to occupy the property (a single-family dwelling) as the principal residence for a minimum of 10 years  
  • The property must be located in Orleans Parish  
  • The selected house must meet minimum Housing Quality Standards  
  • Maintain flood and homeowner’s insurance in the amount required by the mortgage lenders and the homebuyer program  
  • The homebuyer does not have to be a first-time homebuyer  
  • Funds will be available on a first come first served basis, but will be equitably dispersed across all five council districts  

INCOME LIMITS

Maximum Income is 80 percent of the Area Median Income:

  • $43,900 (1-person household)
  • $50,200 (2-person household)
  • $56,450 (3-person household)
  • $62,700 (4-person household)
  • $67,750 (5-person household)
  • $72,750 (6-person household)

For more information or to apply, click here. Those interested can also contact the OCD at (504)658-4200.