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Housing for Teachers: A Solution or a Band-Aid?

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Housing for Teachers: A Solution or a Band-Aid?

As the housing market continues to grow, teachers’ salaries are largely remaining stagnant.   According to Redfin, only 7% of homes in Seattle, 6.5% of homes in Miami, and 1% of homes in Denver are within the realm of affordability for teachers to purchase.  Rental prices are also high.  As a result, many districts are having trouble recruiting and retaining teachers.  A recent survey of 211 school districts in California found that 75% of the districts had trouble finding enough teachers for the year, 40% of science and math teachers are inadequately prepared for classroom instruction, and 64% of special education teachers hired lack the proper qualifications.

One of the solutions that many districts are proposing is to provide housing or some type of subsidy for teachers.  The San Mateo District in California is exploring building housing onsite.  Miami Beach is discussing whether to turn parking garages into affordable housing for teachers.  Eagle County School District in Colorado is even considering building tiny homes for teachers located near the school. Hundreds of other districts are considering similar proposals.

While this may seem like a good idea, critics argue that instead of providing housing, districts should pay teachers competitive pay.  Others criticize the lack of implementation by many districts because the costs as simply too high to provide housing.  While San Francisco is investigating options, the city already has a housing crisis and schools in the city employ over 9,500 people making it unlikely that they would be able to provide housing for everyone.

One innovative plan is currently underway in Newark, New Jersey called the Teacher’s Village.  The 65,000 square foot retail development includes 3 charter schools, 204 apartments with a preference for educators all within a cluster and a block from Prudential Arena.  The 150-million project has helped revitalize the area as evidenced by retail that is emerging around the development.  Thus, instead of viewing housing for teachers as a isolated issue, cities and districts should approach the problem collaboratively like Newark has.

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Interview: Michael Fabiano on Faust

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