Teachers across California, especially those in coastal areas and at the bottom of the salary scale, are being shut out of affordable housing. First year teachers could not afford to rent a modest one bedroom apartment in nearly 40 percent of the 680 districts that reported salary data. The situation is most severe for teachers starting their careers in coastal areas. Nowhere is the gap between teacher pay and housing costs wider than in the Bay Area. Teachers earning an average salary in nearly 90 percent of the districts in the region did not earn enough to rent an affordable two-bedroom apartment.
An EdSource analysis of teacher salaries and rents throughout California shows why many teachers are struggling just to pay the rent. Teachers in rural areas or inland areas fare better, but many of those areas have a shortage of rental housing, compounding the difficulty rural districts face in attracting enough teachers.
EdSource’s analysis used fair market rents calculated by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and teacher salaries as reported by school districts on the J-90 form to the California Department of Education. The rent estimates used in this analysis are considered conservative, especially in core urban areas, because HUD makes use of large metro regions that flatten out variations between neighborhoods and cities.
Affordability of one-bedroom units for beginning teachers
To illustrate the scenario facing teachers just beginning their careers, our first map shows the affordability for a one-bedroom apartment at the low end of the teacher salary scale. The rents in the Bay Area and Los Angeles regions are unaffordable because they require more than 30 percent of a beginning teacher’s income which is the federal standard for affordability. While teachers at the lowest end of the salary scale fare better in inland and rural California, rural areas on the coast such as those near Monterey and San Diego are among the least affordable.
Visit our teacher housing affordability app to see teacher salary scales and detailed estimated percentages of housing costs for the 680 school districts in California that reported salary data.
Map Two: Affordability of two-bedroom units for teachers with an average salary
Our second map illustrates the rental landscape for teachers seeking a two-bedroom apartment on an average salary. This map shows more affordable areas for these more experienced teachers, but with stark contrasts between California’s two urban megaregions, with the Bay Area being largely unaffordable, while Los Angeles is more affordable.
Map Three: Affordability of three-bedroom units for experienced teachers
Our third map considers teachers seeking a three-bedroom unit. In more than a quarter of the school districts that reported salary data, the highest paid teachers could not afford to rent a three-bedroom house or apartment. This is more likely to affect experienced teachers defined by the California Department of Education as teachers with a bachelor’s degree, ten years of experience, and sixty continuing education credits. In this scenario it’s clear that limitations on apartment or home size are the norm in virtually all of coastal California, and obtaining an apartment with extra rooms poses a challenge for even higher paid experienced teachers in many urban areas.