NSEA offers our strong support for item G.1.18 on today’s agenda to invest American Rescue Plan dollars in the Home Means Nevada initiative and to take a big step toward addressing the housing crisis sweeping across Nevada.
NSEA stands united with our allies in the Nevada Housing Justice Alliance because we understand the critical importance of housing availability for the families of our students, as well as our members. Before the pandemic, a lack of a safe, decent, and stable place to live was a significant obstacle to learning and success for our most at-risk students. Now, on the heels of the pandemic’s unemployment crisis, skyrocketing costs have seriously compromised housing security for more and more Nevadans. This not only harms our students and their families, but it also places additional pressures on already overburdened school communities.
NSEA represents teachers, other licensed professionals, as well as education support professionals across the state. It is increasingly common to hear stories from new teachers about their struggles to find housing. A starting teacher would have to spend nearly one-half of their salary to rent an average one-bedroom apartment in Reno.
Homeownership is just plain out of reach for most new educators, with the average sales price there over $500,000. These numbers are far more daunting for many of the workers who make our schools run. A starting school bus driver in Clark County makes less than half of what is needed to afford the rent on an average one-bedroom apartment. Buying a home is not even a remote possibility on that income alone.
The stark contrast between educator pay and the cost of living helps explain the unprecedented shortage of educators to teach our kids and make our schools run. Right now, CCSD alone lists nearly 2000 vacant positions. Nevada needs bold action to address this crisis in public schools, by both paying educators better and investing in affordable housing. NSEA has proposed Time for 20 which includes a 20% increase in educator pay and at least $20/hour for the workers who make our school run. Today’s investment of American Rescue Plan funds for affordable housing needs to be a first step to addressing the skyrocketing cost of living.