A school district subsidizes a tiny home community for teachers

Tiny homes have a varied appeal. Minimalists fascinated with personal living space limits, privacy seekers who wish to live off the grid, and wanderers intent on taking their abodes on their journeys fall on the romantic end of the tiny home spectrum. More practical issues drive communities to consider low-cost, high-density tiny homes for displaced and economically disadvantaged people.

An Arizona school district identified a specific market for the diminutive domiciles: Communities where housing costs rise above educator salaries. Vail, Arizona, located in the desert southeast of Tucson, is backing a tiny home solution for teachers who can’t afford to buy conventional homes in the community, CityLab reports.

Vail, where the median home value is $260,400, according to Zillow, has no apartment housing. Teachers in Vail often seek housing in Tucson, according to CityLab. The median home price in Tucson, 26 miles from Vail, is $180,900.

CityLab points out the disparity between teacher salaries and housing costs are not unique to Vail, or to Arizona, despite the state’s last-place ranking for teacher paychecks. San Francisco, Boston, and Baltimore offer educators subsidized housing, a solution under consideration in municipalities of all sizes in Colorado, according to a 2017 report in The Atlantic. According to CityLab, however, Vail is the first area in the country to back tiny homes for teachers.

The Vail school district is developing a five-acre site as a tiny home community. The district approved $200,000 for infrastructure improvements including landscaping, electrical utilities, and an upgraded septic system. The tiny home community plan includes a mixture of owner-occupied and investor-owned rental properties, all for school district teachers and staff.

Vail elementary school teacher Sydney Scharer and her fiancé previously lived in Tucson, where they paid $850 a month for an apartment. Scharer, seen in the tweeted photo above standing on the steps of a tiny home the couple is building in Vail, currently rents another tiny home in the same area. Scharer will pay about $700 a month for their mortgage and land lease when the house is completed. The land lease, which costs $125 a month, includes utilities and internet service.

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