“At a crisis point”: Homes are out of reach for many Colorado teachers. What does that mean for schools? | SummitDaily.com

“At a crisis point”: Homes are out of reach for many Colorado teachers. What does that mean for schools?

A new report highlights how houses have become too expensive for teachers and other workers. Raising wages alone won’t fix the affordability issue.

Erica Breunlin
The Colorado Sun
A private home sits across from Manual High School, at the intersection of 28th Avenue and Williams Street in Denver, on Monday, Aug. 15, 2022.
Jeremy Sparig/The Colorado Sun

COLORADO — Fewer than one-fifth of homes across Colorado are affordable to teachers who make an average salary in their district, even as average teacher salaries have increased by about 25% in the past seven years, according to a report published Tuesday by the nonpartisan Keystone Policy Center.

The report puts numbers to a problem that prices teachers out of homes in the communities where they teach and forces another challenge on school districts in attracting and retaining educatorsLast year, teachers in 24 school districts lived in communities where less than 10% of homes were within financial reach for an educator making an average salary in their district.

“It matters enormously if teachers can live in the community in which they teach,” said Van Schoales, senior policy director at the Keystone Policy Center, a Keystone-based nonprofit that works to solve community challenges related to education and other issues. “And unlike many other professions coming out of the pandemic, teachers can’t work remotely. At least most teachers can’t. And we now know that most remote learning doesn’t work well. And so quality schools depend upon quality teachers, and teachers need to be able to live in their communities or at least near their communities where they’re teaching.”

“In a number of places, we’re at a crisis point,” Schoales added.

Among the districts where houses are least affordable for educators are those in Colorado’s mountain communities as well as in metro Denver, northern Colorado and Colorado Springs — where collectively more than 80% of the state’s educator workforce lives. The report looks at average teacher salaries district by district and determines the maximum amount of money a teacher could put toward a home, no more than 30% of their monthly pay. The report analyzes the number of housing units, excluding rentals, within school districts that fall at or below the maximum price a teacher could afford and also breaks down the number of homes affordable to teachers earning more or less than the average salary in their district.

Read more on ColoradoSun.com.

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