VAIL, Ariz. (AP) — A southern Arizona school district is looking to build a village of tiny homes in order to attract and retain teachers to an area that lacks affordable housing.
The Vail School District is planning to build at least four homes on land the district owns before the start of the next school year, the Arizona Daily Star reported this week. Vail is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of Tucson.
The project is geared for new and young teachers or others looking to downsize so they can become ingrained in the community, said John Carruth, an associate superintendent for the district. Carruth is spearheading the project that's aiming to build up to 24 tiny homes when the site is fully developed. The district would then consider expanding the project to additional sites if it proves successful.
"They're tiny luxury homes. It feels luxurious, but it's small," Carruth said. "We want them to feel like it's a cool and unique and honors the teachers and their profession."
The minimalist homes would likely be between 250 and 400 square feet. The district is considering charging between $500 and $600 for rent with utilities not included.
With teacher pay generally low in the state, offering teachers tiny homes is somewhat insulting, said Joe Thomas, president of the teachers' union Arizona Education Association.
Though he wishes the action would not be necessary, Thomas said the district's attempt to provide teachers with affordable housing is commendable.
The starting base salary for a teacher in Vail is about $36,000. The median household income for the area is about $83,000, and the median home price is about $260,000. The city also does not contain any apartment complexes.
Superintendent Calvin Baker said he wishes he could pay teachers enough to afford a home in Vail, but it's not feasible for most new teachers in any area.
"I think the right way to frame it is not tiny homes versus suburban homes. It's tiny homes versus small apartments because that's where most of us started," Baker said.