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Hawaii Bills Aim To Create Housing Vouchers For Teachers

Milken Family Foundation

State lawmakers are weighing two bills intended to create a housing voucher program for full-time teachers employed by the Hawaii Department of Education or at public charter schools.

The bills would authorize the Hawaii Housing Finance and Development Corp. to implement the housing program, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Tuesday.

The program would provide vouchers to full-time teachers who teach in "hard-to-fill" schools and whose household income does not exceed 80 percent of the area median income.

The vouchers would not exceed $500 per month.

Neither bill currently includes an appropriation amount.

The bills passed second readings and were referred to the Senate Ways and Means committee.

Ways and Means recommended both bills be passed with amendments.

"Housing subsidy vouchers can be a tool to increase the department's teacher retention, especially in hard-to-fill geographic areas," said DOE Superintendent Christina Kishimoto in written testimony submitted before committee hearings on both bills.

DOE spokeswoman Lindsay Chambers said a housing voucher program for eligible teachers could be a helpful recruitment and retention tool to attract and retain quality educators.

A third bill would allow a state income tax credit up to $500 for pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade teachers and other school officials employed at least 900 hours a school year to help offset personal expenditures.

The bill passed second reading and was referred to the House Finance Committee.

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