As home prices continue to skyrocket in the Highland Lakes, the Marble Falls Independent School District has deployed an unorthodox recruitment strategy for new teachers: finding them affordable housing.
The district teamed up with local Realtor Nattlie Hoover to locate previously unlisted homes on the market and ask owners of vacation and short-term rentals if they’d be interested in leasing them to new hires.
“Nattlie Hoover really stepped up and was able to give us data that we were able to proactively share with employees and interested hires to help take the housing element out of the equation,” Assistant Superintendent Dr. Jeff Gasaway told DailyTrib.com. “It made it to where if they wanted to be here. We could help them locate a place that they could afford.”
The district sent out more than a thousand letters to rental owners in the area and found housing for many of its new hires.
“The letters basically said, ‘If you have a second home and you’d be interested in renting it to a Marble Falls ISD teacher, we may be able to get you paired up (with a new hire),’” Gasaway said. “It generated a good amount of responses.”
District officials also spoke to managers at area apartment complexes about available units.
“We tried to look at it from a variety of different angles,” Gasaway said. “The letters were just one method of finding housing for teachers and staff members.”
The lack of available, affordable homes has always been an issue for the district when recruiting, but it wasn’t until five or six years ago that housing became a potential deal breaker, Gasaway said.
“We are constantly looking for housing that our teachers and our paraprofessionals can afford within the area,” he said. “It has made for some challenges for our principals and district administrators as we try to fill positions each year.”
The tactic was successful enough for district officials to consider using it upcoming hiring cycles.
“The number of homes is hard to quantify because the information (regarding the available homes) was used so frequently with our new hires,” Gasaway said. “I would venture to say we will look at this again. We’ll continue to use a variety of strategies on affordable housing, but this was a good one that is worth exploring again.”