Housing estate built for teachers

6th July 2001 at 01:00
UNITED STATES: With the high cost of housing making it even harder to recruit teaching staff, one California community is building low-rent apartments on school land for 40 new teachers.

The first-of-its-kind complex, in the so-called Silicon Valley near San Francisco, will be dubbed "Casa del Maestro" - Spanish for "home of the teacher".

Rents are extremely high in the Silicon Valley, thanks to the large number of software and dotcom companies located there - even since the downturn of the technology boom.

Teachers in Santa Clara earn starting salaries of $41,000 a year (pound;29,000). The average price of a single-family home is more than $560,000 (pound;399,000).

Many teachers who quit cite the high cost of living as the reason.

The apartments will cost $1,200 a month in rent, half the rent of comparable units elsewhere in the city. The district raised the money to build them by selling off unused school buildings.

A private company will manage the complex.

More than 80 teachers applied for the apartments, and the winners were picked from a bin at a ceremony in the elementary school nearby.

Casa del Maestro was built on land across a soccer field from the school. One new teacher whose name was selected said he had been sleeping on friend's sofa because he couldn't afford to pay rent. If he hadn't been picked, he said, he probably would have had to leave his job.

Some other American school districts have helped to subsidise homes for teachers. But no other public school system is known to have built teacher housing from scratch.

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