Crazy or Genius? CA plan to house teachers INSIDE SCHOOLS
In California, the concept of affordable housing is both highly attractive and nearly nonexistent. In fact, many teachers in the Golden State are finding they cannot afford to live anywhere near the pricy locations around their site of employment. The San Jose Unified School District is hoping that housing its teachers on the school grounds will solve the problem, but not everyone likes the math or the potential effect on home values in the surrounding areas.
The plan is based on the district closing several schools with declining enrollments and due for major upgrades and updates and turning them into staff housing. At present, teachers throughout the district may drive four or more hours a day to work and, as a result, are departing in record numbers. According to advocates for the proposal, they are struggling to recruit enough teachers and staff to fill jobs as housing costs outpace incomes.” Critics of the plan, such as those who launched a petition on Change.org titled “Save Leland and Bret Harte” (two schools that might be converted to staff housing if the plan goes forward), complain that creating the “low-income housing” for teachers would “negatively impact the aesthetics of the area.”
In the Bay Area, teachers have access to another option for buying a home: state-funded down payments. This program has been in existence for about 17 years, but only about 2,400 school employees have purchased properties through it. The program, called the California Housing Finance Agency’s School Teacher and Employee Assistance Program, connects teachers with conventional mortgages, down-payment loans, closing-cost assistance, and even grants.
One teacher currently working in San Jose expressed concerns about her ability to remain in the area in her current job and also raise a family. “As renters, it’s incredibly challenging,” she said. Readers should note at this point in time, San Jose’s teacher housing project is a proposal, not an implemented plan.
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