Milpitas Teacher Housing Crisis

November 14, 2022

The increasing costs of purchasing California residences creates widespread repercussions throughout school districts across the state. One affected district – the Milpitas Unified School District – is currently considering methods to help their staff ease the high expense of housing in the Bay Area. If this issue persists, Fremont Union High School District (FUHSD) teachers may have to implement similar housing methods. 

California is the third most expensive state in the United States, with a cost of living index of 142.2. The Bay Area housing market is characterized by high demand and scarcity of available inventory. Due to persistent demand from the state’s high-income residents, home prices have skyrocketed, rising to twice the national average. Roughly four in five California counties witness their median home prices rise yearly, as shown by the California Association of Realtors data .  

MUSD is currently experiencing an understaffing issue due to the high living costs for teachers in the Bay Area. The district has had ten teachers depart the district to more affordable locations. In a statement issued by the district, Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said, “We’ve lost out on some employees that we tried to recruit because once they see how much it costs to live here, they determine that it’s just not possible.” 

To mitigate this problem, MUSD released a Google form to parents to inquire about potentially renting their homes to teachers. The district also expressed that they hope to work with local agencies to secure low-interest educator and city worker home loans and lobby for workforce housing with developers coming into the city. 

Another school district, Jefferson Union High School District, located just south of San Francisco, implemented a system where teachers are provided affordable housing on school property. Local voters approved a 122-unit apartment complex built for teachers and staff on property owned by the school district. 

Several teachers at Cupertino High School have expressed their belief that their salary is inadequate to live comfortably in the Bay Area. Kristi Kuehn, a physiology and biology teacher at Cupertino High School, said, “Raising a family, [a teacher’s salary] is not adequate. So really, to live in this area, you have to have other support like maybe having a significant other that you can share expenses with.” 

Some FUHSD teachers sought part-time jobs to meet monthly housing expenses. Chris Oswald, a Physical Education teacher at Cupertino High School, holds several side jobs. He is currently the school’s varsity football coach. Oswald said, “[The money is] not the only reason I coach, but it does help to get a coaching stipend. Last year, I worked the weight room, and second semester as an after-school person. I have former students who own businesses, and I worked for them at times.”

In the face of rising expenses, California schools continue to search for options to make living more affordable for employees. MUSD itself has explored other ways to improve housing options for teachers, such as coordinating with agencies that offer loans to educators and considering the construction of accessory dwelling units.

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