School districts’ fight against rising housing costs and teacher turnover could find a solution in Assemblymember Tony Thurmond’s (D-Richmond) proposed legislation. His bill would provide financial assistance to school districts to help fund the pre-development and development of housing for school employees, including teachers and classified employees. As Thurmond explained, “When educators are forced to live outside of the community they serve, they are severely limited in their ability to participate in many after-school programs, establish crucial parent-teacher bonds or respond to localized student needs, all factors in providing an enriched learning environment for students.”
The affordable housing crisis has hit essential workers like teachers, nurses and police officers especially hard given the high cost of living in the major metropolitan areas of the state like San Francisco and Los Angeles. In Thurmond’s home city of Richmond, housing costs were the number one reason for teachers leaving the district. In California’s most populous counties, only 17% of homes for sale were affordable on the average teacher salary. Across the state, the majority of teachers’ salaries are too high to qualify for affordable housing programs but not enough to actually live in their district. It is not uncommon to hear of teachers and district employees commuting two hours each way to their work. This is unsustainable in the efforts to provide high quality education and strengthen our communities.
Thurmond’s Bill AB 45 is a leap forward in that it would allow school districts to receive state money to partner with developers to build workforce housing. Districts would be able to apply for pre-development and development funds, with special priority given to districts experiencing a high-need student population in the face of struggles to recruit new teachers.
Learn more about how school districts can develop workforce housing through DCG’s “The Workforce Housing Advantage” Guide.