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Silicon Valley’s Skyrocketing Housing Costs Shut Teachers Out

August 14, 2015 in Blogs

By Lillian Mongeau, The Hechinger Report

School quality could suffer, some residents say.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Skyrocketing housing prices in Silicon Valley, the red-hot center of tech entrepreneurship and one of the most highly educated enclaves in the world, are making it hard for teachers to call the area home.

“Housing is one of the biggest reasons we lose teachers from one year to the next,” said Dave Villafana, president of the teachers’ union in Cupertino, Apple’s hometown. “They can’t afford a house and rent is prohibitive as well.”

Villafana, who has taught in Cupertino for 28 years, said that for the last 15 years district teachers have increasingly had to live elsewhere — often a 45- to 65-minute commute away on the area’s clogged freeways — in order to afford rent. Owning a home, he said, is “not even a thought.”

“The reality in Silicon Valley now — for working class or middle class working professionals — is that a single family home is just not a reality for them and it probably won’t be,” said Chris Isaacson, president of the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors.

In Cupertino, the median price of a single-family home was $1.8 million in May 2015, according to data pulled by the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors from the MLS database, the most up-to-date source of information on home prices. In nearby Mountain View, where the Googlers work, the median price was again $1.8 million. [See map for detailed information on other Santa Clara County communities.]

And these are not giant suburban homes people are buying. The average square footage of homes sold in these towns last month hovered around 2,000 square feet, meaning that the price per square foot is more than $900, a cost that rivals pricey New York City.

For many residents of the Valley, for which Santa Clara County is the closest geographical proxy, owning a house remains a possibility, despite the gargantuan price tags, because salaries here have risen too. The county ranked in the top 20 for median household income in 2012, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. And the bureau’s 2009–2013 five-year estimates put …read more


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