San Jose Neighbourhood NIMBY: Keep The Schools, Lose The Teachers

photo of street scene in Los Banos, California at dawn
Passing through Los Banos, CA — a typical crack-of-dawn commute facing San Jose city teachers. Without affordable housing, the only other increasingly chosen option is to quit.

San Jose, California is looking to retain teachers in a community where teachers are increasingly unable to afford housing. The school district’s long term solution? Follow in the footsteps of a number of other communities around the country and use surplus school district land. Building housing without land purchase costs is the best way to make homes for teachers affordable.

The proposed most economical method? Raze older schools in need of refurbishment or with declining enrolment, replacing them where needed at other locations. Too bad that residents near the proposed housing sites prefer their close-by schools instead of accommodating teachers.

Meanwhile, 200 teachers leave San Jose a year, citing unaffordable housing as the main reason.

Why does this matter for everyone? San Jose, like all communities in many countries, need teachers, health care workers, protection services and other key community personnel. These are not low-paying jobs, but increasingly they don’t pay enough to buy or rent housing in, or even near by, their communities.

If an ‘industry’ such as education can find land it already owns in order to subsidize affordable housing, experiments such as this one in San Jose are worth following as they play out in the community. What compromises need to be made between neighbourhoods at loggerheads with each other, driven by a predictable range of NIMBY obsessions?

And San Jose is looking ahead, operating on a ten year plan to ensure the growing city has the teachers to provide quality education for years to come. Given the uproar that the teachers housing has provoked, what tools might be necessary to ensure that some sensible long range planning can reliably take place. Who might provide those tools? The municipality? The state?

Read more about San Jose’s teacher housing crisis in the Herald and News: Turn Schools Into Teacher Housing? Unique Idea Sparks Backlash In Bay Area Community




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