As cost of living in San Jose continues to escalate, employers are finding it more and more difficult to attract and retain qualified and highly skilled employees. The primary driver of the increased cost of living is housing, which has seen unprecedented cost increases in recent years.
In order to ensure that San Jose City College (SJCC) and Evergreen Valley College (EVC) continue to be able to attract and retain the highest caliber of faculty and staff, it is imperative that San Jose – Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD) take a proactive approach to utilize our own resources to combat the challenges presented by the high cost of living in our region.
In this regard, the SJECCD Board of Trustees passed a resolution recently authorizing SJECCD staff to investigate the feasibility of providing workforce housing for employees of the District.
While there are a variety of statewide and local initiatives designed to expand the inventory of affordable and low-income housing, we believe we can leverage these programs and partnerships while investing our own resources into developing housing for SJECCD employees. These may include acquiring and converting existing properties, building new rental units on property currently owned by SJECCD, or acquiring land on which housing can be built.
As the cost of housing continues to go up and more and more school and community college districts and other public agencies struggle to attract and retain high-quality employees, we believe creating our own workforce housing is the best method under our control to counter this issue.
We are on the leading edge and we anticipate that many public agencies will likely follow suit in coming months and years.
This is not an issue that affects only SJECCD. As we have seen in recent months, other community college and K-12 districts in our region are at various stages of exploring and developing workforce housing. From conversations we have had with educational leaders throughout the region, we know we are not alone in facing these challenges.
By providing workforce housing, we will reduce employee turnover, which will allow the District to direct funds currently utilized for new employee recruitment and onboarding to other areas, resulting in more efficient use of tax dollars.
Through working together to address one of the biggest issues facing our community, we can ensure that we continue to have the best faculty in the classroom and exceptional staff in support positions in order to provide high-quality education to students throughout the San Jose – Evergreen Community College District.
Dr. Byron D. Clift Breland is the chancellor of SJECCD. Dr. Jeffrey B. Lease is the SJECCD Board President.