California school districts forced to get creative on teacher housing concerns

Unaffordable housing prices coupled with widespread teacher shortages have forced two California school districts to get creative as they tackle the problem.

Santa Cruz Teacher Housing Affordability Called Worst in Nation

One built a subsidized apartment complex on its grounds for educators and staff while another asked parents if they had room in their homes to rent out to their child’s teacher.

The desperate move in Milpitas, California, came after 10 teachers quit their jobs at the San Francisco Bay area school district this summer. The exodus wasn’t because of burnout or a career change. Instead, it was the byproduct of sky-high rents and low teacher salaries that have failed to keep up with inflation.


The Milpitas School District sent messages to parents this week urging them to fill out an online form if they had “a room for rent at your home and would like to share the housing opportunity with our Milpitas Unified School district educators.” The message linked to the form that asked would-be landlords how many rooms they had available and how much they’d charge.

California School District Creates Affordable Housing For Teachers

So far, 53 people have responded, Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said, adding that such an overwhelming response in a short time “is evidence that our entire [team], which includes our teachers and classified support staff, is valued by our Milpitas community members, parents and caregivers.”

The gap between those who can afford homes in the San Francisco Bay Area and those who cannot has been widening for years. Many of the Milpitas District’s 1,000 employees are “moderate-income employees” who are “finding it increasingly difficult to purchase or rent a home within a 15 miles radius or [closer] to the Milpitas Unified School District where they work,” a school board resolution, which was passed on Aug. 23, read.

According to a Redfin analysis of California’s 31 most-populated counties, teachers earning the state’s average salary could only afford 17% of homes for sale in those counties, compared to four years earlier when the rate was 30%, the Washington Post reported.

Santa Clara County, home to Milpitas and Silicon Valley, topped the real estate brokerage’s least-affordable places for teachers to live. In fact, the number of houses that were affordable on a teacher’s salary was zero.

The state’s instructors earned about 15.5% less than their college-educated nonteaching peers from 2014 to 2019, according to the most recent data from the Economic Policy Institute.


Megan Carey, the principal of Terra Nova High School located south of San Francisco, told CBS News that the high cost of living has not only affected teachers but has been a real disservice to students.

“There’s been times when we didn’t have a math teacher or we didn’t have a language teacher,” she said, adding that unaffordable housing was “100%” to blame.

In order to retain teachers, Carey’s school district started to offer affordable housing on school property. A 122-unit apartment complex was approved by local voters and built for teachers and staff on property owned by the Jefferson Union High School District.

“It’s very spacious,” Michaela Ott, a biology teacher at Jefferson High School, told CBS.

Ott added that an average two-bedroom apartment in the area would set her back more than $3,000 a month. At the school-owned apartment complex, her rent is $1,600.

Social science teacher Jonathon Krupp said he was “absolutely blown away” by the idea of offering housing on school grounds.

“There are no words to describe it,” Krupp, who has been teaching for 13 years, said. “I think that this gives teachers hope.”


Cross-country coach Erick Willemse said he wouldn’t be able to teach without a subsidized apartment.

“Delivering pizzas actually pays more than coaching in this district,” he said.

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