A Northern California school district is testing out a novel solution to its housing shortage for teachers: asking community members to rent them rooms.

The Milpitas Unified School District put out the call to families in late August in response to staff losses and sky-high housing costs that have made it difficult for educators to live near where they work.

Superintendent Cheryl Jordan said in a statement to NPR that the district had already gotten 55 responses to its request.

It was proof that district staff members were "valued by our Milpitas community members, parents and caregivers," she said.

Spokesperson Scott Forstner said the district had not yet heard from any employees who had secured a unit through the roughly week-old request to families.

The median home price in Milpitas, located just outside San Jose, is $1.3 million, according to Realtor.com.

Roughly 4 in 5 California counties are seeing their median home prices rise year over year, data released in August by the California Association of Realtors shows.

In the last year, the Milpitas Unified School District lost 10 teachers, officials said. Seven moved to "more affordable" communities, and three left California.

Two surveys, conducted by the district in 2017 and 2021, showed that some staff members had long commutes and lacked steady housing, Jordan said at a recent school board meeting.

The Milpitas school board declared in a resolution that "the gap between those who can afford a home in the San Francisco Bay Area and those who cannot, is widening at an alarming rate, with some having to hold part-time jobs to meet monthly housing expenses, and affordable rental housing is in short supply."

The district has explored other ways to improve housing options for teachers, such as coordinating with agencies that offer loans to educators and considering the construction of accessory dwelling units, which are small homes on the same lot as larger ones.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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