Teachers across the U.S. are increasingly relying on strike action as they fight against low salaries that make it difficult for them to pay the rent or buy a home. Now, cities are attempting to respond with subsidized housing for educators, with projects under way in places like Chicago, Los Angeles and Santa Clara, and more being considered in Miami and San Francisco.
“Providing subsidies and housing is a smart incentive,” Sandi Jacobs, a principal at EducationCounsel, an education consulting group, told realtor.com. “There are certain metro areas where home prices … are so high compared to the average teacher’s salary. So it means teachers may have to live a significant distance from the school they’re teaching in, or they live with five roommates to afford their rent.”
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average elementary school teacher’s salary is $57,100 per year, while high school teachers rake in an average of $59,170 annually. However, in areas that have seen teacher strikes these salaries are often much lower – for example, in Oklahoma, elementary school teachers make an average of just $40.053 per year, while those in Arizona fare little better with just $44,200 per year.
That compares with a median home price of $279,900 nationally, according to National Association of Realtors’ data. In addition, the average cost of a two-bedroom rental apartment comes in at $1,170 per month, Apartment List data shows.
California was one of the first states to offer its teachers subsidized housing. In Santa Clara, 70 one-and-two bedroom apartments have been reserved for teachers since 2002, priced at around 60 percent of the going market rate. San Francisco meanwhile, has set aside $44 million to build 130 to 150 new subsidized apartments for between 60 and 90 teachers, and for other school staff, on a single site. It’s sorely needed as the median price for a home in San Francisco is a cool $1.3 million. The project will take three years to complete, however.
Meanwhile in Miami, officials are considering building a middle school with an entire floor reserved for teachers’ apartments. Should that project prove to be successful, officials may also construct a complex of 300 apartments on the grounds of another school in downtown Miami.