Study Links Affordable Housing to Improved Educational Equity

November 30, 2022

A report recently released by the Marin Promise Partnership’s Marin Educators for Equity Initiative (MEEI) demonstrates the need for affordable educator housing in Marin. The report’s findings suggest that affordable educator housing could be a key factor in diversifying Marin’s educator workforce, retaining high quality staff, and improving student outcomes.

Research clearly demonstrates that all students benefit from a diverse educator workforce that can better support a culturally responsive learning environment. Students of color see significant academic, social, and emotional gains from having educators that reflect their diverse backgrounds and lived experiences. White students benefit from learning in an environment that mirrors today’s global and multilingual college and career landscape. Yet, in the 2018-19 school year, California Department of Education data showed only 11% of educators in Marin identified as people of color while 43% of students identify as students of color. Closing this 23% gap is essential to ensuring every student in Marin has an opportunity to thrive and is why creating affordable educator housing is vital to closing this gap. “Districts are finding that some prospective employees decline to come to Marin because of the high cost of housing and the long commute from more affordable places to live. The solution is affordable housing right here, in Marin!” said Linda Jackson, President of the Board of Education for San Rafael City Schools in an interview with the Marin Environmental Housing Collaborative.

The report’s findings revealed that 42.8% of educators in Marin cannot afford a studio apartment. The numbers were even higher for BIPOC and younger (18-39 year old) educators at 58.0% and 55.5%, respectively. It also showed that, based on salary schedules from TK-12 districts throughout the county, a single earner in a household would need to work for ten years in a district and hold both a teaching credential and a Master’s degree before being able to afford a studio apartment in Marin. Even with 10 years of employment,  Classified employees, (i.e. janitors, classroom aids and school attendance clerks) still would not be able to afford even a studio apartment.

However, if affordable housing were available, the study demonstrates that it would be a highly attractive benefit when recruiting and retaining a younger, more diverse future generation of educators. 57.5% of the surveyed educators indicated that they would be interested in affordable, employer provided housing if it were available. Demand was even higher among educators of color (64.1%) and those aged 18-39 (65.4%).

“This report shows that educators, especially young, diverse educators, can’t afford to live here,” says Robin Pendoley, Director of Collaborative Action at Marin Promise Partnership. “If educational equity and improving student outcomes is a priority in our county, then diversifying Marin’s educator workforce is essential, which means we need to ensure that our teachers and school staff can live in the same community as the children and families they serve.” 

So far the report has been referenced by Sonoma State University School of Ed in a federal grant request, in testimony regarding San Rafael’s Housing Element, and by MCOE and the SF Chronicle in relation to the Oak Hill Village affordable housing project. The Oak Hill Village affordable housing development near San Quentin will include 101 units for Marin educators. The Marin County Office of Education will oversee those units. Even with this project, the housing report data suggests that the county would need more than 1,400 more units just to meet the demand from the ten MEEI partner institutions alone. “Oak Hill Village is a first of its kind development in Marin County,” Pendoley said. “Education institutions and municipalities throughout the region will be watching it closely in the coming years to learn how to develop and manage similar projects.”

The MEEI Affordable Educator Housing report was based on a survey of Marin educators conducted in December 2021. The 722 respondents included early childhood educators, certificated and classified educators in TK-12 districts, and higher education faculty and staff. MEEI was able to leverage its existing Partner network to distribute the survey and gather substantive data. MEEI is a collaborative effort among ten education institutions across the county: Marin County Office of Education, College of Marin, Dominican University of California, Novato Unified School District, San Rafael City Schools, Sausalito Marin City Schools, Tamalpais Union High School District,  Shoreline Unified School District, The Branson School, and Marin Academy. Founded by Dr. JuanCarlos Arauz, the initiative is facilitated by Marin Promise Partnership and funded, in part, by Marin Community Foundation and the County of Marin.

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