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Teachers At A Fair Haven Preschool Couldn't Afford To Live Nearby. So The School Bought Housing.

One teacher lives in this single-family home owned by the Friends Center.
Emily Hays
New Haven Independent
One teacher lives in this single-family home owned by the Friends Center.

A New Haven preschool center is helping some of its teachers — by giving them a place to live. WSHU’s Davis Dunavin spoke with New Haven Independent reporter Emily Hays about the program that provided four homes for teachers.

Hays visited the Friends Center for Children, in the city’s Fair Haven neighborhood.

Emily Hays: So it’s a center that is based on Quaker values. It aims to serve a very diverse group of children, so it has a sliding scale for tuition. They want to provide reasonable liveable wages for their teachers. The solution they came up with was, what if we just do this one-time purchase of housing, and then we can provide free housing for workers?

Davis Dunavin: You also got a chance to speak to a couple of the women who got the opportunity to live in this housing, and I like that the story is also their story. So tell me about them.

EH: There’s Cynthia Howard, who is an assistant teacher. And she was really in a crisis before she got this housing. She had a divorce and she had a major surgery. And that pushed her into homelessness at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In January, she moved into this apartment right at the same time as she started work. And she was like, it’s like a New York-style loft, I feel like I’m a celebrity. She just is so clearly in a different mental health space because she has this stable housing.

DD: Did you come away from this feeling like teacher housing is a potential solution or potential model that other cities, towns could look to?

EH: Yes. Absolutely. I found it really compelling that it just required $750,000, a one-time donation from someone, and then the teachers can save up to buy their own home and become part of the wealth-owning share of the population.

Emily Hays is an education reporter for the New Haven Independent. Her report on the preschool’s housing program ran on the website Monday.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.