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Should cities help teachers who can't afford to live where they work?
Extra-pricey real estate puts a strain on teachers and other lower-income professions, leading some cities to consider subsidizing housing for public servants. - photo by Eric Schulzke
Teachers and other public service professionals working in costly metro areas around the country are struggling to find affordable housing within reasonable driving distance from their employment. The problem is now leading some cities to explore affordable housing subsidies.

"Palo Altos City Council is exploring several ideas," NPR reports, "including subsidized housing for teachers and other public servants who cant afford local rents but make too much to qualify for low-income housing."

SFGate reports that Palo Alto, California, home to Google and the country's most expensive real estate with a median home value of $2.8 million, is quite serious about the notion, looking to provide housing subsidies to those earning $250,000 or less.

Prices have just gone through the roof," Palo Alto Vice Mayor Greg Scharff told CBS News, "making it unaffordable for middle-class people, your firefighters, your teachers, and, frankly, some of your doctors."

San Francisco, NPR notes, is taking similar steps, including "forgivable housing loans, mortgage assistance and, eventually, affordable housing specifically for teachers. In May the city will restart its Teacher Next Door program, which offers city teachers up to $20,000 toward the purchase of their first home."

NPR interviewed Tara Hunt, a third-grade teacher in Palo Alto, who makes a two-hour commute to teach in a community she cannot afford to live in. She wants to move closer but simply cannot afford to.

This is where all the tech jobs are. And its pushing out your community helpers, Hunt told NPR. The cost of living just keeps going up and up.

The pressure on teachers has long been apparent.

Last summer, The Atlantic did a story on Silicon Valley's trouble retaining teachers, quoting Dave Villafana, the president of the teachers union in Cupertino, Apples hometown. Housing is one of the biggest reasons we lose teachers from one year to the next, Villafana said. They cant afford a house, and rent is prohibitive as well.

But the problem extends outside of California. In 2014 The Wall Street Journal did a story citing data by Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. The study found that in cities like Austin, Texas, and Boulder, Colorado, fewer than 10 percent of the listed homes could be bought on a teacher's salary.

This contrasts with a number of more affordable cities, such as Minneapolis (38 percent), Las Vegas (36 percent) and Houston (35 percent).

The least teacher-affordable cities were in California: San Jose (1 percent), Salinas (2 percent) and Santa Rosa (4 percent).
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