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Round Rock ISD leaders looking to lift financial burden off staff with new affordable rent option

Kelsey Sanchez 

The Board of Trustees signed off on a partnership with the Texas Workforce Housing Foundation to create an affordability fund. ROUND ROCK, Texas — School districts across Central Texas are searching for ways to keep teachers and staff within the district without having them pay them substantially more to do so.  This week, Round Rock ISD leaders moved forward with a partnership with the Texas Workforce Housing Foundation to create an affordability fund, which would be geared toward providing staff with affordable rent prices at four apartment complexes in the Round Rock and Austin areas.The foundation will use $1 million in the first year to help district employees receive discounts at the chosen complexes. According to Superintendent Dr. Hafedz Azaiez, it won't cost the district a dime.  "We don't have to go through an intensive search for a property building or building a property, getting a loan to make it happen," Azaiez said. "They're wanting to work with us to help our teachers and staff, so we we're super excited about it."  The apartment complexes are Legends Lakeline, Legends Lake Creek, Enclave at La Frontera and Lakeside at La Frontera.The discounted rent will depend on the staff member's income. However, Azaiez says that staff members who already live at one of the locations will have to option to apply for a reduced rent cost.  "If some folks want to move now to these apartments, obviously there will be a process that they have to start. As a district, we are not managing this," Azaiez said. "We are just pretty much agreeing to the terms and also will be, as a district, communicating it to our teachers and staff."The downside is that only some staff members will be able to take advantage of the program. Azaiez said the district is looking into 100 units, give or take. Currently, there are no affordable housing options within the district, and as the cost of living rises, Azaiez said this is the first step to give staff some financial support."We're going to continue always looking for ways to help and support and remove any barriers for our teachers and staff because we understand. I mean, it's hard and it's expensive, and inflation is not helpful at all,"  Azaiez said.Staff members who choose to apply will be able to start in August and will have to contact leasing offices to do so.

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