The high cost of housing

Educators in San Francisco face a unique dilemma: teachers are leaving town because they can’t afford to live in the city, according to a report in the Huffington Post.

One study determined that two-thirds of San Francisco teachers spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Nearly 15% pay more than half their salary on housing. To meet the median cost of rent in that city while spending 30% of income, a household would need earnings of $180,000 yearly.

While housing prices in San Francisco continue to soar, teachers in the Jefferson Union High School District, just outside the city, earn wages that are among the lowest in the US.

As a result of the housing burden, annual teacher turnover in San Francisco is 12%, meaning 400 new classroom vacancies every year.

“Educator turnover hurts a school because children need to experience safety and stability. Educators develop relationships with students that really help to support their growth and learning,” said Elaine Merriweather, executive vice president of the United Educators of San Francisco.

The union is addressing the crisis by joining with the city to build a housing complex exclusively for its member teachers. Similar projects have been proposed in neighbouring cities.

The impetus to address the crisis of teacher housing is too little too late for some.

“It would have been nice if there had been rent control and better salaries,” said one teacher. “I do love teaching here, but I am being driven out.”

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