The Silicon Valley housing crisis is linked to a drop in enrollment in schools

Two damaging issues in Silicon Valley – a lack of affordable housing and declining enrollment in schools – are closely linked, according to a new study.

A recent report by Silicon Valley Community Association says additional housing construction could help offset the long-term declines in student enrollment across Santa Clara County. Enrollment is expected to drop more than 15 percent in the county over the decade – down from 253,625 students in 2020 21 to 212,501 students in 2030-31.

The report’s collaborators say they want to convince people that more housing will help revive struggling school districts. .

“It’s not on the municipal radar when they stock housing sites, to the best of my knowledge,” Stephen Levy, author of the report and director of the Center for Continuing Research of the California Economy, told San Jose Spotlight. Benefit from additional students and additional housing. “

California requires cities to update their housing plans every eight years. The so-called housing element update has been reviewed and approved by local authorities in a process that may take more than a year. These updates are intended to meet the state target set by 2020 to build more than 441,000 across the Gulf region over the next eight years.

The California Treasury Department expects a steady decline in enrollment in Silicon Valley schools over the next decade. Image courtesy of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

All cities in the province of Santa Clara should build a combined 129,577 homes of all income levels by 2031, with San Jose responsible for 62,200 homes.

The report – developed in collaboration with Silicon [email protected] And Palo Alto Forward – focuses on five cities that are in the midst of updating their housing plans: Cupertino, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. [email protected] And Palo Alto Forward are housing support organizations.

According to the report, all of these cities are experiencing sharp declines in student enrollment. In Cupertino, enrollment in primary schools has fallen by 17% since 2014-15. In Palo Alto it has dropped 62% in the last six years.

According to the report, this trend is driven by a long-term decline in birth rates, but also by the more immediate problem of unaffordable housing. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there has been a steady decline in birth rates across the country since 2008.

Silicon Valley birth rates have been declining for more than a decade. Image courtesy of Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

“It is very difficult for a young family to buy a single-family home in Silicon Valley,” said Matthew Reid, Silicon’s policy director. [email protected], He told the San José Spotlight. “Some of the areas not intended for housing increase are areas that have seen the largest decline in enrollment.”

Santa Clara County is home to some of the most expensive residences in the country. A growing number of residents are unable to afford to live in the area, and cities are struggling to build accessible homes for people with low and moderate incomes. State laws designed to expand local housing, such as a policy that allows homeowners to split their lots and build more homes, have faced fierce opposition in San Jose and elsewhere.

Claudia Rossi, a trustee in the Santa Clara County Board of Education and a candidate in the District 1 District Supervisors Council race, said this trend is contributing to the mass exit of low-income families. The loss has a direct impact on school districts, she added.

“You have to get a certain number of students to be able to employ a certain number of teachers as well, so with a drop in enrollment comes a cut in work,” she told the San José Spotlight. “If a drop in enrollment gets to a certain point, you look at closing schools – it’s a domino effect.”

This is already happening in the county. Last year, the Alum Rock Union School District Board voted to close two middle schools after noting enrollment is expected to drop by 50% by 2027.

Levy said one of the goals of the report is to disprove an argument against housing that adding more homes to the community would be an excessive burden on local schools. Single-family, and says it will overburden local infrastructure, including schools.

“I personally think the quality of the school and the changing demographic data have a greater impact on the drop in enrollment than the housing market situation,” Davis told San Jose Spotlight. “A lot of people point with their feet and send their kids to a private school, if they have that option.”

Gina Dalma, senior vice president of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, told San José Spotlight that she hopes the report will inspire community members – especially people who already care about school problems – to see these two issues intertwined.

“If you call yourself an educational lawyer, make sure you are involved in housing,” Dalma said.

Contact Eli Wolf b [email protected] or @ EliWolfe4 On Twitter.

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