As home prices and rents soar in California, housing affordability in the Golden State has plummeted to a 15-year low.
And in Milpitas, a city located at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay, housing has become so expensive that many teachers can no longer afford to live in the area.
“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,” Milpitas Unified School District Superintendent Cheryl Jordan, told NBC.
After having trouble attracting educators and facing high turnover rates, the school district has come up with a radical solution: asking local families to take in cash-strapped teachers.
Jordan says the innovative plan is working.
“So far, we’ve had 34 respondents who are interested in providing a room or small space on their property for our educators if needed,” she said.
In California, many teachers grapple with housing affordability because — like many educators throughout the United States — they are underpaid. The state’s instructors earned 15.5% less than their college-educated non-teaching peers from the years 2014 through 2019, according to data collected from the Economic Policy Institute.
But it’s not only teachers who are having a hard time financially — the state’s residents are burdened by costs in general. According to consumer financial company Bankrate, the cost of living in the state is now 39% higher than the national average.
And the US home buying frenzy has not done Californians any favors either.
Intense buyer competition, limited supply and soaring inflation have led to exuberant price gains in California’s housing market. Although growth has begun to moderate, the median home price in California reached a staggering $788,679 in July — a 14.8% increase from the same time period in 2021.
Rents in the state are likely to become more expensive too.
While the state’s AB-1482 rent control law prevents landlords from raising rent by more than 5% annually — with additional breathing room for inflation that caps the rate at 10% — soaring inflation has given them the green light to hike prices this year. Although prices vary in each metro, the average rent in the state costs more than $2,000 — above the national average of $1,770, according to rent.com.
To address California’s affordability crisis, the state’s legislators have launched a new controversial housing policy.
The bill, named “Light Touch Density,” was introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, and signed into law by Governor Newsom in 2021. The law, which went into effect at the beginning of this year, allows cities to alter their zoning codes in an effort to increase California’s housing development.
Previously, it was illegal to build more than one unit of housing per parcel in areas designated for single family zoning. However, the bill now permits the construction of up to ten-unit buildings per parcel.
Supporters of the bill hope additional housing construction will help alleviate the issues plaguing California’s housing market.
“Small multi-unit ‘missing middle’ housing is a critical part of ending California’s severe housing shortage,” Senator Wiener said in a statement to the press. “By allowing cities to opt in to use this powerful upzoning tool, we can chip away at our housing crisis in a way that makes sense for each city.”