LOS GATOS (KPIX 5) — Several South Bay teachers shared their stories of struggle during a Santa Clara County town hall meeting to discuss how the housing crisis affects them Tuesday evening.
The teachers stood up one by one to talk about how they’ve had to move from apartment to apartment, have roommates or hold second jobs just to get by.
Cameron Clarno packed his bags, left his teaching job in Redding and moved his family to take a position as a music and choir teacher for the Los Gatos Union School District.
“I jumped at the chance to take it,” Clarno said.
But what he didn’t anticipate was leaving his family behind and moving into an RV because he couldn’t find a place they could afford to rent. He said his wife and two young children have been living with relatives several hours away.
“It’s hard just because they’re my life,” he said.
Clarno has now lived in the RV since the beginning of the school year, which started last month. He said he’s jumped from county park to county park once his two week limit expires. Clarno was one of several teachers who shared their story at the town hall.
“I don’t want to leave, but every single day it goes through our minds, where else could we go,” one teacher said.
The teachers spoke in front of a panel of people, ranging from Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Mary Ann Dewan to Facebook Strategic Initiatives Manager Maya Perkins, as well as Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian, who organized the town hall.
Simitian told the crowd he’s looking for solutions to build more housing for teachers who work in the county’s 31 districts, including building teacher housing in Palo Alto that’s expected to house at least 60 people.
“I grew up as the son of two school teachers,” Simitian said. “We’re going to need to find properties, we’re going to find investors in these projects and my hope is that when people listen to the individual stories of the individual teachers they’ll understand this is real, the problem is wide spread.”
Clarno said he finally found a place to rent recently that he and his family will move into next month. But he said it’s half his income, and they’ll likely have to move if the rent increases.
He and many of his peers said during the meeting that it’s only fair to be able to afford to live in the community they’re working in and impacting lives.
“It’s really demoralizing,” said Clarno. “We go into this not for the money, we go into it because we love kids and we love the fact that we get to change a new generation.”