BULLHEAD CITY – Representatives of the Bullhead City School District and other community leaders broke ground Monday for the first phase of a new neighborhood that will feature housing for some employees priced out of the area. The “District Employee Neighborhood” (DEN) will provide payroll-deduction rental homes.
Phase One of the five-acre development is covered by a bipartisan Congressional grant known as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER). The third and final component through the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, known as ESSER III, was designed to assist local recovery needs for school districts impacted by COVID. Grants were highly competitive and administered through state departments of education. For BCSD, pre- and post-COVID retention and recruitment of qualified employees has been an ongoing concern. In 2021, the BCSD Governing Board began serious discussions about a sustainable program for attainable and affordable housing.
Five to six three-bedroom homes are planned for Phase One. Up to 20 homes will be built in future phases, using net rental revenues and possibly additional grants. Arizona law specifically allows “teacherages,” which includes both classroom and non-classroom employees.
The district has already provided employees several raises, using both local funds and additional school finance allocations from the Arizona Legislature. BCSD has also lowered local property taxes for each of the last four years. However, the Tri-State area’s return to population growth and real estate development has priced some existing and new district employees out of the market.
“We’re making available new affordable housing for employees with the goal of having them move to Bullhead City, or staying here if they’re priced out of housing,” said BCSD governing board president Melinda Sobraske. “Our goal is not for them to stay in these homes long-term, but to save money to buy or rent housing in the commercial marketplace.”
One surprise during the ceremony came when BCSD Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Stewart announced that the end of the street in the new neighborhood will be named “Kory Court,” in honor of Kory Burgess, a former BCSD board member and board president who first proposed the idea during a casual conversation in 2019.
Developer/general contractor GCON of Phoenix has agreed to BCSD’s request to use as many local subcontractors as possible from Mohave County.