HAYS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Employees with Hays Consolidated Independent School District could get more options for affordable housing.

At Monday’s Hays CISD school board meeting, trustees heard a presentation about a formal agreement between the district and the Texas Workforce Housing Foundation regarding affordable housing for Hays CISD employees.

“As the cost of living continues to rise, the district would like to explore options to provide more affordable housing options for its staff,” the agenda item stated.

According to the item, the foundation is a Texas nonprofit that provides, “economic development, education and workforce housing opportunities for Texas residents.”

It said a partnership with the foundation could help Hays CISD employees access rental housing at “significant discounts from market rent.”

Multifamily workforce housing

“The cost of rent are just exploding and people need help,” said Adam Harden, the attorney for the Texas Workforce Housing Foundation.

Harden said their hope is to bring multifamily workforce housing to Hays CISD employees.

“We’re going to try to find something in the district boundaries, either a new construction project or looking at existing supply in Hays County, that we can acquire using tax exempt bonds,” Harden said. “Provide priority access to teachers and not just teachers, but all district employees.”

Harden said rent would be limited to 30% of an employee’s income. Along with that, he said the foundation provides extra money to help with rent.

“They own, they operate, they manage these projects. They also supply an upfront contribution to the district of $500,000 per project into the affordability fund, and then ongoing payments to help make sure that they never run out of money,” Harden said.

He said that fund helps supply an extra $250 or $300 additional discount per month.

This applies for any Hays CISD employee making at least 30% of the area median income.

“That would be somebody whose family making about $36,000 a year and up to 80% of the area median income,” Harden said. “So families that’re earning let’s say $80,000-$90,000.”

Harden said human resource departments are very interested in this because it’s a recruiting and retention tool for the districts.

“It’s kind of giving them a $3,000 a year raise. It’s a unique way for districts to help support their employees without necessarily getting it run through their own budget,” he said.

The foundation is working with several different school districts but down the line, it would also like to partner with city’s to help create affordable housing projects for EMS, police and fire employees.

Growing trend

Hays CISD isn’t the only district taking these kinds of steps.

Pflugerville ISD approved an agreement this July with the Texas Workforce Housing Foundation to work with certain apartment complexes in the area, providing more affordable rent.

The board said it also approved a $2 million contract with a company to develop its own housing for teachers.

Also in Williamson County, Round Rock ISD established an agreement with the foundation for an initial $1 million to go into an affordability fund and $50,000 per year for each property.

The money will be used to help lower rent prices for district staff at apartment complexes in the area. Staff could also use it for rent payments, moving expenses and security deposits.

Increased housing costs

Jayme Salinas is an art teacher with Hays CISD. She said its hard to afford rising housing costs on a teacher’s salary.

“I have teacher friends who cannot find places to live,” Salinas said.

She said its caused more of her colleagues to even leave the job all together.

“Having to find other jobs that will pay more or have second jobs, summer jobs,” Salinas said.

More affordable housing is a move Salinas applauded, but she’d also like to see higher pay raises.

“I wouldn’t be here for so long if I didn’t love it. But the pay could be increased,” Salinas said. “The cost of living… we can’t keep up.”

Still, she’s encouraged by this potential step and the difference it could make.

“Affordable housing would definitely help some of our teachers,” Salinas said.