A great place to work, but you can't afford to live there

The cost of housing has risen so much in the San Francisco Bay Area that faculty members at local universities have largely been priced out of places to live, Nell Gluckman writes for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

San Francisco State University and the University of California at San Francisco have even seen job applicants decline offers because of the lack of affordable housing options, according to administrators. "It's a concern of the applicants, and it's a concern of the department chairs," says Sacha Bunge, dean of faculty affairs and professional development at San Francisco State.

The dramatic rise in the cost of housing in the Bay Area was primarily caused by the high-paying technology companies in Silicon Valley, which employ thousands of people who also live in the region. Those workers pay some of the highest rents in the country, effectively pricing out people who work at nearby universities, Gluckman writes. The speed of residential building was far slower than growth in the number of Silicon Valley tech jobs from 2015 to 2016, according to Joint Venture Silicon Valley, a public-private partnership.

In both Berkeley and Oakland, families making $80,400 can be considered low-income; the same is true for families making $84,750 in Palo Alto and San Jose, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In response to the problem, San Jose State University started a faculty-in-residence program. Faculty members commit to spending 10 hours per week organizing student events, hosting office hours in student dorms, and doing other student-related activities in exchange for a lower rent apartment option on campus. Faculty can participate in the program for two years. Its goal is not only to give faculty members an inexpensive alternative for housing, but also to improve the college experience for students.

Colleges in the area do have a few advantages that offset the high rents, says Bunge. The concentration of doctorates means there's a good pool of local talent. And San Francisco's rent control laws mean that long-term residents can usually continue living in the area (Gluckman, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/18).

Related: Retaining faculty can help you retain students

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