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Portland is Lost: Teachers Prepare To Strike if District Refuses to Pay for Student Housing

The Portland Association of Teachers is prepared to strike if the school district refuses to provide subsidized housing for poor public school students, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The teachers association and Portland Public Schools have been in negotiations for nearly a year, but remain deadlocked on expanding Portland rent control laws, reports the Washington Free Beacon. The union proposed a district-led subsidized housing initiative and to identify land the district owns that could be transformed into Section 8 housing, union documents show.

The first day of mediated negotiations took place on Aug. 31, but the teachers association claimed the District passed on six articles and were able to reach a “tentative agreement on four articles,” including school improvement councils and a mentor program. The two parties are slated to meet again Thursday, according to the Portland Association of Teachers’ Bargaining Brief.

The high cost of housing in Portland is impacting the teachers who spend about 42% of their salary on rent, according to research from the National Council on Teacher Quality. In the same study, Portland Public Schools was ranked second-least affordable in the country for teachers looking to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

Portland School District has 91 “unsheltered” student enrollees, 56 students who live in motels and 125 unaccompanied homeless youth, according to data provided by the Oregon Department of Education.

The Portland Association of Teachers has been protesting for smaller classes, increased support and better pay since the end of the 2022-23 school year. Although state law prohibits a formal strike from occurring until October, organized walkouts occurred throughout the year, according to KOIN News.

“If we want educators to stay, we need to see educators salaries go up, and we are demanding pay raises to reflect that,” Portland Association of Teachers President Angela Bonilla told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Our public school families are facing increasing housing insecurity. We are demanding assistance for families at risk of losing their housing, to keep families housed and in the district.”

The union proposes quarterly meetings to ensure evaluation of the efficacy of services to homeless students and to create a joint committee of equal representation to develop and “implement ways of providing housing assistance,” according to the union document.

Portland Public Schools did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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