New housing initiative aims to keep Black teachers in Oakland

Oakland teachers striking in May noted then that providing assistance outside the classroom would enhance learning conditions and increase their retention.

A new housing initiative hopes to keep Black teachers educating kids in Oakland, California.

According to a press release, some select Black teachers in the Bay Area will have access to brand new apartments thanks to a collaboration between Riaz Capital, a pioneer in providing affordable, high-quality housing for middle-class families in the region, and Urban Ed Academy, a leading nonprofit organization assisting Black men who want to work in education.

The alliance will initially accommodate 10 teachers, who will reside at Artthaus Six, Riaz Capital’s most recent development in Oakland. There are plans to provide more housing options, the press release states.

A new housing initiative hopes to keep Black teachers, especially men, in Oakland, California. It accommodates 10 teachers, who will reside at Artthaus Six, Riaz Capital’s most recent development in Oakland. (Photo: Adobe Stock)

The initiative follows a four-clause “common good” agreement made in spring between the Oakland Unified School District and striking school staffers to address housing and transportation, the community schools grant, the Black thriving community schools initiative and school closures, The Associated Press reported.

In May, the 34,000 students in the Oakland Unified School District missed eight days of classroom lessons before district officials and the Oakland Education Association reached an agreement that returned striking teachers, nurses, librarians and other employees to campuses after almost two weeks away.

Teachers noted then that adding support outside the classroom would enhance learning conditions and increase teacher retention. More mental health services, renovation of crumbling schools and subsidized transportation for low-income students were a few other common-good demands. 

Riaz Taplin, CEO of Riaz Capital, expressed his company’s excitement in working with Urban Ed Academy on this “transformative initiative.”

“Our goal is to empower Black teachers by providing exceptional housing opportunities. By supporting their well-being, we contribute to their ability to positively impact” students’ lives, said Taplin. “By addressing the housing needs of Black teachers, this collaboration creates a positive ripple effect that extends beyond the educators themselves, benefitting the students they teach and the broader community.”

The National Education Association reports that just 2 percent of Black men in America are teachers. A new study from John Hopkins University discovered that Black students are 13 percent more likely to attend college if they even have one Black instructor by the third grade.

Riaz Capital and Urban Ed Academy are actively addressing this issue and encouraging greater diversity in the educational system by providing housing alternatives specifically suited to Black male instructors.

The organizations, referencing their shared dedication to equal opportunity, high-quality education and community empowerment, want to help retain Black male educators and assist their professional development and well-being by reducing the housing burden. 

According to CBS News Bay Area, data from the California Department of Education showed that approximately 3.9 percent of public school teachers in the state are Black. Black students make up roughly 5.4 percent of the student body.

Black male teachers in the state are 1.2 percent of its public school teachers.

“Our teachers deserve the opportunity to live near the schools they serve, and this partnership helps us make that happen,” said Randal Seriguchi Jr., executive director of Urban Ed Academy. “Riaz Capital has been an amazing partner throughout this process, and their commitment to innovative racial equity strategies was clear to us from the start.”

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