Sep 8, 2023 - Real Estate

Housing costs are nearly half of San Diego teachers' salaries

Illustration of an apple shaped like a house.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

San Diego teachers are spending sizable chunks of their paychecks to buy or rent homes, as the region continues to confront its housing shortage and steep cost of living.

Driving the news: A recent report from the National Council on Teacher Quality found that typical homeownership costs in the city are 44% of an experienced teacher's salary.

  • San Diego Unified is ranked as the third least affordable school district in the country for new teachers looking to rent one bedroom homes, which come with a $2,500 monthly price tag on average in the city.
  • And it could take local teachers 25 years to save for a 20% down payment on a home, per the report.

Why it matters: On their salaries alone, many teachers simply can't afford to live where they work, which can have repercussions for the quality of students' education, Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, told Axios.

What's happening: Some school districts are getting into the home-building business to help relieve the financial burden.

  • California passed a state law in 2016 allowing districts to build affordable housing for employees.
  • By 2021, dozens had taken steps to make it happen, including getting bond measures passed to fund housing projects.
  • Another new state law will loosen zoning requirements, making it easier for school districts to build on their properties starting in 2024.

Zoom in: Locally, San Diego Unified plans to build 500 units of affordable housing for teachers, funded by $226 million from a bond measure that passed last fall.

  • Alpine School District in East County renovated a house this year for multiple teachers to live in, mere feet from the elementary school they work at.
  • Chula Vista passed a bond measure to build 100 units of below-market-rate apartments for teachers in 2020, though they haven't been built yet.

The big picture: Rising home prices nationwide have outpaced starting teacher salary increases, according to the nonprofit National Council on Teacher Quality.

  • Since 2017, the average American home price has risen 40%, and the one-bedroom rent in the largest metro areas has increased 22%, per NCTQ.
  • But starting teacher salaries have only risen 15%.

Context: In June, the San Diego Unified School Board approved a 10% raise retroactive to July 1, 2022, and a 5% raise for this school year for teachers to improve recruitment and retention. The new annual salaries are:

  • $64,000 for a new teacher
  • $105,000 for a mid-career teacher
  • $124,000 for a highly experienced teacher.

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