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Detroit hopes to attract, retain educators with discount housing program

A house for sale on the Detroit Land Bank's online auction site.
Detroit Land Bank Authority
A house for sale on the Detroit Land Bank's online auction site.

A new incentive program hopes to entice more Detroit educators to live in the city.

The Detroit Land Bank sells former city-owned properties through an online auction.

Now, Detroit school employees who bid on those homes can receive a 50% discount on the final sale price.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District, wants more teachers who work in Detroit to live there too.

“It allows us to go back to an age where our teachers were directly linked to our schools in the community, which builds a better relationship with our students,” Vitti said.

Vitti said this is one piece of a developing effort to attract and retain teachers, as the district struggles to address a chronic teacher shortage. “And part of that conversation was offering incentives to have more of our teachers live in the city of Detroit,” Vitti said.

The discount is available to school employees at any public, charter, or private school in Detroit.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says people interested in the program need to go through an eligibility process.

“We will send an email to your employer,” Duggan said. “When they verify that you’re an active employee -- and if you’re a full-time contractual we’ll count you as well -- you get qualified for the 50% discount.”

But after going through that process, potential home-buyers can wait as long as they want to bid on properties, Duggan said.

The Land Bank currently offers the same discount to city employees, retirees, and their immediate families. Duggan says about 240 families have taken advantage of that program so far.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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