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Swalwell bill aims to increase affordable housing for teachers

'Educator Down Payment Assistance Act' would establish grant program
CONGRESS_Eric Swalwell
U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell.

U.S. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Livermore) and Jahana Hayes (D-Conn.) have introduced a bill aimed at assisting teachers with homeownership, as impacts of a national teacher shortage rock the Tri-Valley and the rest of the country.

House Resolution 8340, dubbed the "Educator Down Payment Assistance Act," would provide a grant program that would support local governing and educational bodies in providing down payment assistance to full-time teachers and school employees who are first-time homebuyers.

"Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, America was facing a shortage of qualified early childhood and K-12 teachers because they are so often underpaid and overworked, especially in low-income communities," Swalwell said in a statement last month. "The Educator Down Payment Assistance Act can help address these disparities by helping teachers and other educational professionals afford homes in the communities where they teach."

The move comes as local teachers' unions in the Tri-Valley have pushed for cost-of-living increases aimed in particular at softening the economic blows to school employees facing the expenses of the area, and the associated housing crunch.

Nationally, the announcement from congressmembers' offices emphasizes that the continued COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse for educators and schools, with housing affordability posing the largest obstacle to entry-level teachers in metropolitan areas.

The bill would support grant funding for up to $25,000 of down payment assistance for educators and school employees who have served for five or more years and make up to 120% to 180% of the median income, depending on costs of living where they are.

HR 8340 was introduced on July 12 and has been referred to the House Financial Services Committee.