NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As the new school year quickly approaches, two early childhood educators in New Haven are getting a fresh start with rent-free housing, thanks to an out-of-the-box approach to teacher compensation.

Many agree that teachers should be paid more, and this rent-free housing opportunity provided by Friends Center for Children is focused on that just that.

“We’re looking to create space for teachers to live, and so this location was gifted to us by a very generous friend,” said Allyx Schiavone, executive director of Friends Center for Children.

Starting this fall, two teachers from the Friends Center will live in a new home on Howard Avenue in New Haven.

“We’re looking really to shift the way that early childhood teachers are compensated,” Schiavone said. “So currently, right now, teachers are compensated less than dog walkers. We believe that that is unfair and unjust.”

This is the first of five homes designed and built by Yale students through a partnership with the Yale School of Architecture.

“To work with the Friends Center and to work with the teachers of the Friends Center and know that we’re building dignified housing for those who are so deserving of it is really meaningful to the students,” said Adam Hopfner of Yale School of Architecture.

Teachers like Paris Pierce consider this rent-free housing opportunity a game changer to help provide better for kids.

“This is an amazing program to set you up for the future, to make you feel secure in your livelihood,” she said.

Pierce hopes other early childhood centers take notice and follow Friends Center for Children’s lead in helping teachers.

“I would suggest other programs jump on board because it is a privilege,” she said.

The teachers expect to move in this October. Friends Center for Children hopes to provide housing to 30% of its teachers by 2027.

Eligible participants must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Annual salary of $38,500 or less for a single adult;
  • Annual salary of $64,000 or less for one adult with children; or
  • Annual household income of $79,000 or less for two adults with children.

As a transitional housing program designed to set residents on a path toward financial stability, participants may continue to live in teacher housing by reapplying annually.