There was an interesting article in the LA Times today Firefighters Are Priced Out of the City They Protect about how firefighters have 90 minute commutes or more because they have been priced out of the markets they serve. In Montecito, California, adjacent to Santa Barbara, a 2nd year firefighter makes $75,000 per year while the average home prices are $2,300,000 and rents are too high to be affordable.

The same goes for teachers, police, ems, postal workers, prison guards and others in many communities. They simply can’t afford to live in the towns they serve [WaPo].

The is a nationwide problem that was made worse by the housing boom. Its been an issue for years as evidenced by this article written in 2000 in Realty Times.

One quirk, admittedly insignificant, relating to this issue indirectly that my family has experienced first hand. In my home town in Connecticut, many of the teachers live 45-60 minutes away. My kids will have snow days when there is no snow or very little accumulation since many of the teachers live further inland away from Long Island Sound and often get significantly more snowfall than areas on the coast.

3 Responses to “Municipal Employees: Housing Market Could Catch Fire, Literally”

  1. Madame X says:

    I noticed (and meant to write about but didn’t!) a recent NYT article about how the union representing a lot of NYC employees won a concession from the city saying those employees don’t have to live within the city any more. I forget exactly who this covered, but I think it may have included firefighters and cops. The article didn’t say how many people it affected, but it seemed like it would prompt an exodus of middle class people from NYC…

  2. Jonathan J. Miller says:

    Yes – I meant to as well. Its actually a big deal because the services are what make living in metropolitan areas so appealing. One of the problems cities have had for years, especially police and firefighters has been the disparity of pay between urban areas and suburban areas with higher risks associated with urban work as well.

  3. John Philip Mason says:

    Two points:

    1) There has also been the emotional separation of having someone live in one area, but work in a far away community. That is, some claim these individuals would care more (not that many of them don’t already care) if they lived and worked in the same town.

    2) It is interesting these two posts are back to back. One about how municipal workers can’t find affordable housing near their place of work and the other about how much more new houses have in terms of size and amenities. Could the connection (in part) could be more than coincidence?