Report: Bay Area teachers struggle to find affordable housing near their schools

By Shawna De La Rosa

Dive Brief:

  • Most educators in the San Francisco Bay Area don’t make enough to pay for market-rate rent or purchase a home near their schools, according to a report issued by The Council of Community Housing Organizations. Elementary and high school teachers in the region need to make 1.5 times their current salary in order to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

  • The report claims that the supply of housing built for middle- and low-income workers is not sufficient, and that in order to meet the needs of workers, San Mateo County would need to develop an additional 10,000 new affordable housing units and San Francisco would need 16,333 new affordable homes by 2023.

  • Many educators at the higher end of the income range for the profession are caught between making too much to qualify for low-income housing but not enough to afford market-rate housing, and the report's authors warn that creative funding options must be established, with types of housing and housing assistance expanded so educators can afford to live near their schools. Otherwise, districts will struggle filling open positions.

Dive Insight:

Affordable housing for teachers is a national problem, especially in larger urban areas. While the median incomes continue to increase, teachers’ salaries are dropping. A report by the National Education Association (NEA) shows educators’ salaries are down 4.5% in 2018-2019 compared to 2009-2010 figures. Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller National Home Index shows the price of homes has gone up 43.1%.

This means that teachers can’t live near the schools where they teach, especially in high-income cities like New York, San Francisco and Seattle. To fill the affordable workforce housing gap, the commercial real estate developer RBH Group has opened two “Teachers Villages,” which are workforce housing developments targeting teachers. One is in Newark, New Jersey and another is in Hartford, Connecticut. The firm has plans to break ground on a third in Chicago by the end of the year and has purchased a site in Miami for a fourth location.

The developer will take advantage of a funding boost from a 2017 tax law, which provided incentives to invest in opportunity zones, to finance the future sites. Opportunity zones give investors tax benefits when they buy into tracts of land deemed distressed by state governors.

Other options are becoming available, as well. The startup Landed is helping some California teachers buy homes by paying for up to half the down payment of a home in exchange for 25% of the gain or loss in value when the home is sold. The program aims to attract teachers, but is available to any district employee who commits to living in the district for at least two years and can afford to pay 10% of the down payment.

Maya Chupkov