March 21, 2016; San Francisco Examiner
The San Francisco Examiner reports on a proposal by San Francisco County Supervisors to enact tenant protections for teachers during the school year. In “Teachers could be exempt from no-fault evictions during school year,” the Examiner explains, “Evicting teachers…for reasons beyond their control could soon become illegal during the school year under a proposal that will be discussed by supervisors today.” According to the article, teachers are afraid of losing their homes in the middle of a school year.
This proposal is especially important for San Francisco because many public servants, who because of public sector salaries are unable to become homeowners, face the fastest rising rental market in the country. San Francisco and other “hot market” towns in the Bay Area have found it hard to recruit and keep teachers because of the cost of housing. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle last October describes efforts by number of school districts and community colleges to create “worker housing” for teachers:
San Francisco, home of some of the highest home prices and rents in the country, might also get in the housing business. School district and city officials, including Mayor Ed Lee, announced plans last week to build 100 or so affordable apartments for teachers and school staff on one of the district’s 11 surplus property sites.
The same article reveals resistance to subsidized housing by an array of opponents, from neighbors who oppose low-income, tax-supported housing in their midst to labor leaders who want better salaries instead of rental subsidies. A commenter notes that, if passed, the law will prompt landlords to refuse to rent to school employees. Could be; discrimination based on occupation is not illegal.
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The City of San Francisco has taken steps to provide incentives for teachers to become homebuyers, and the San Francisco Unified School District promotes efforts to assist relocating teachers. The district’s efforts are supplemented by a local nonprofit organization, the United Educators Association for Affordable Housing:
Established in April 2013,the United Educators Association for Affordable Housing is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing affordable housing to all San Francisco Bay educators. We believe living comfortably should be attainable no matter what school district our teachers work in.
UEAAH offers down-payment assistance, a home-sharing service, and advocacy for property tax relief. Maybe their most important service, though, is explaining to the community why teachers need housing assistance.
In light of this explosion of programs to support Bay Area teachers, the move to create legal protections against eviction during the school year seems like a desperate effort to stall the relentless pressure of gentrification that is sweeping the Bay Area, at least as it affects teachers. According to teacher’s union political director Ken Tray, “We are not only losing veteran teachers [because] they’re facing an eviction…but our new teachers and new paraprofessionals are leaving The City in droves.”
Still, it seems like one benefit of creating “just cause” legal protections will primarily be psychological, since teachers living on a month-to-month basis would be a relatively small percentage of the workforce, and the new protections will provide no assurance that expiring leases will be renewed at an affordable level.—Spencer Wells