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posted by janrinok on Sunday May 21 2023, @08:37AM   Printer-friendly

Study finds 90% of Australian teachers can't afford to live where they teach:

The teaching profession is already struggling with shortages and a lack of new candidates in a situation widely regarded as a crisis. Now, research warns that teachers are being priced out of housing near their schools, with many areas even too expensive for educators at the top of the pay scale.

The study, published recently in The Australian Educational Researcher analyzed quarterly house sales and rental reports in New South Wales (NSW) and found more than 90% of teaching positions across the state—around 50,000 full-time roles—are located in Local Government Areas (LGAs) where housing is unaffordable on a teacher's salary.

The situation is particularly dire for new teachers. There are 675 schools—nearly 23,000 full-time teaching positions—where the median rent for a one-bedroom place is unaffordable on a graduate teacher's salary.

Housing is considered unaffordable if a person spends more than 30% of their income on housing costs—sometimes called being in housing stress. Those in housing stress may not have enough money remaining to cover the cost of food, clothing, and other essentials.

But affordability isn't just an issue for early career teachers. For experienced educators at the top of the pay scale, 70 schools—about 2,000 full-time roles—are in an LGA where a single-bedroom dwelling is also unaffordable.

"The study shows the last time a first-year teacher salary could comfortably afford the rent for a one-bedroom dwelling was around a decade ago," says Professor Scott Eacott, the author of the study and Deputy Director of the Gonski Institute for Education at UNSW Arts, Design & Architecture.

"Fundamentally, there's been an increasing gap between salary and the costs of housing that the standard pay rise isn't covering, and it's pushing teachers further away from their workplaces or out of the profession entirely.

"The issue is not just limited to teachers, but all essential workers who are increasingly finding it difficult to find affordable places to live within a reasonable distance of their

"The school system is struggling to find enough teachers as it is," Prof. Eacott says. "If teachers can't afford to live near or within reasonable commuting distance of their schools, we can only expect those shortfalls to continue to grow."

[...] Prof. Eacott says part of the challenge is that no single government department or the private sector is ultimately responsible for housing essential workers. While more investment from superannuation funds in essential worker housing developments is welcome, it won't be enough to address the issue at scale.

"The simple answer is we do need to be paying teachers more. But that may not necessarily solve supply problems," Prof. Eacott says. "For example, it is just incredibly difficult right now for teachers to find a place to rent given record low vacancy rates.

"It's also important that we're not confining teachers to just teacher apartments, but creating pathways to home ownership."

[...] "We rely so much on our teachers, so it's only fair we take steps towards providing them and other essential workers with affordable and secure housing options," Prof. Eacott says.

Journal Reference:
Eacott, Scott. The systemic implications of housing affordability for the teacher shortage: the case of New South Wales, Australia [open], The Australian Educational Researcher (DOI: 10.1007/s13384-023-00621-z)


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  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by krishnoid on Sunday May 21 2023, @04:12PM (7 children)

    by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday May 21 2023, @04:12PM (#1307230)

    Like how resident assistants live in dormitories (in a larger room) on-campus? They could move out when their salaries went up, and they'd at least be able to save up in the meantime. Plus the commute wouldn't suck, and they could have more flexibility for extracurricular activities.

    Don't most kids think teachers live at the school anyway?

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by sjames on Sunday May 21 2023, @04:47PM (5 children)

    by sjames (2882) on Sunday May 21 2023, @04:47PM (#1307234) Journal

    Possibly, but read up on the history of company towns and company stores before leaping. A big problem with company housing is that when (not if these days) you get laid off you become unemployed and homeless at the same time at the stroke of a pen. That also makes it nearly impossible to demand better work conditions or pay.

    • (Score: 2) by krishnoid on Sunday May 21 2023, @05:52PM

      by krishnoid (1156) on Sunday May 21 2023, @05:52PM (#1307236)

      Which brings up a good point, about teachers' unions being able to negotiate enough area-dependent pay to cover housing, or the housing itself.

    • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday May 21 2023, @09:45PM (3 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday May 21 2023, @09:45PM (#1307258)

      >when (not if these days) you get laid off you become unemployed and homeless at the same time

      With the paycheck to paycheck model that so many people follow for their personal finances, this is still true.

      Also, if we are converting school buildings to low income housing, we might also guarantee a year's residence beyond any employment termination.

      One of the greatest things about UBI is the U: Universal, aka reliable, dependable, non-revokable, something that all people could make plans around.
        Guaranteed housing availability, even only for 52 weeks after termination, would provide the terminated employees with enough time to make a good next move, instead of a desperate one.

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      • (Score: 2) by sjames on Sunday May 21 2023, @09:58PM (2 children)

        by sjames (2882) on Sunday May 21 2023, @09:58PM (#1307260) Journal

        Even paycheck to paycheck offers a limited time since foreclosure or eviction cannot happen overnight.

        I agree, a mandatory 52 week grace period after termination would make a large difference.

        • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday May 21 2023, @10:59PM (1 child)

          by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday May 21 2023, @10:59PM (#1307263)

          My dad works for a university that offers professors free on campus housing. He never accepted it because he didn't want the additional availability to his students and colleagues that would come with the "free" housing.

          At this stage in his career, he has moved 500 miles from campus and does such remote teaching as they offer him, not a full salary, but as much as he wants.

          Earlier career teachers could conceivably save a great deal of money having no housing or transportation costs by living on campus. I'm picturing a field of tiny houses behind the portable classrooms...

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          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 22 2023, @11:55AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 22 2023, @11:55AM (#1307310)

            > a field of tiny houses

            Yeah, I can see that too, but in any climate where heating and/or cooling is required, this is a dumb idea. Small buildings have a large ratio of surface-area:volume and are very expensive to heat/cool...compared to an apartment building or dorm where the units (flats) share walls.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21 2023, @07:59PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 21 2023, @07:59PM (#1307247)

    Not quite the same as actually living in the school building, but consider the urban planning in Toronto (Canada).

    Not sure if it's still this way, but when I (from USA) was there for a week c.1995 I asked if there were any parts of town to be avoided (high crime, etc). The answer was that, by planning, every district of the city had to have a certain amount of low income housing (possibly subsidized or rent-controlled, I've forgotten). So by design there were no slums, no low income concentration anywhere.