SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) — The city of Santa Cruz has earned a dubious new distinction: it is now the least affordable city in America for teachers.
In a ranking of 291 cities across America, Santa Cruz was number one as least affordable in terms of housing for teachers. It’s followed by San Jose, San Francisco, Honolulu and Santa Rosa.
“We unfortunately weren’t really surprised,” said Casey Carlson of the Santa Cruz Federation of Teachers.
She says it’s a confluence of factors that make Santa Cruz unaffordable for teachers including low state funding for education and a Local Control Funding Formula that gives Santa Cruz schools less than its neighbors.
“We’re getting about $589 less per pupil than Pajaro, which is just south of us,” Carlson said.
Then there’s the housing shortage.
Because it’s a resort town, much of the available rental stock is now going for short-term rentals or Air BnB. What’s left is often too expensive for teachers who make $50,000 to $60,000 a year.
“Two thirds of my income goes directly to rent every month,” said Sarah Rominger, a high school math teacher.
Rominger has a math degree from UC Berkeley, but in Santa Cruz she’s struggling to make ends meet doing her dream job.
“If I worked at Google or Facebook, I could be making so much more money. But I wouldn’t be happy,” she said.
The school district is planning to build housing on district land, which would include about 80 housing units for teachers and support staff.
But that project is years away.
Last year, the district lost 20 teachers, who specifically blamed housing costs for leaving the area.