San Francisco math teacher and badminton coach Etoria Cheeks probably never imagined that with a master's degree and a teaching credential, as well as a secure job at a San Francisco public school, that she would end up sleeping in hostels and in a homeless shelter when she was evicted from a house where she was renting a room in Daly City because it was foreclosed upon. As the Chronicle explains, Cheeks moved to San Francisco from Georgia during one of the tightest and most expensive housing markets in years, in 2015, and despite making a $65K/year salary that would allow for comfortable living in the vast majority of the country, she has become homeless here within two years, and has yet to find a lease she can afford.
Thankfully, as of a couple months ago, the San Francisco Teachers' Union located a retired teacher in West Portal who was willing to lend a spare bedroom to Cheeks temporarily, and that is where she's staying until she can locate something more permanent.
Cheeks, 35, teaches algebra and statistics to teens at the Academy-San Francisco at McAteer, the public school on Portola Drive that shares a campus with the Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. And she found herself in a predicament that is probably familiar to a lot of what the mayor has referred to as "middle income" San Franciscans who don't have friends or family in the Bay Area to fall back on in a moment of housing crisis. She makes too much money to qualify for the Mayor's Office's below-market-rate rental programs (she makes well over the $42K limit which is 60 percent of area median income for an individual as of 2015), and she would likely sit for years on a lottery list for this or the BMR ownership program anyway.
According to a report by Apartment List, a San Francisco teacher would need to commute to San Pablo or Pittsburg in order to find an apartment where they would be paying 30 percent or less of their income every month.
Speaking to the Chronicle Cheeks laments, “Technically, I’m still homeless until I have my own lease. San Francisco isn’t geared for me; it’s not built for someone like me."
Indeed, SF's teacher salaries haven't kept up with the cost of living here by any measure. The Chronicle notes that by year 10, teachers in Chicago, which is far more affordable than SF, make $87,000/year, while teachers in Boston make $93,000 by year 10. Here, a teacher would make a max of $75K by that time, and likely would not be able to afford to living without a roommate or higher-paid spouse.
So, Cheeks has already submitted her resignation to SF Unified, and she's not sure where she's moving next. Better that than ever have to deal with landing in a homeless shelter again.