Bill Creates Affordable Housing for San Francisco Teachers

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

A bill has been passed that will allow the San Francisco Unified School District in California to develop housing for teachers and staff on district property, and now the state Assembly has sent the bill to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature.

California Sen. Mark Leno sponsored Senate Bill 1413, which sanctions school districts across the state to lease property owned by school districts for the development of “teacher housing.”

Allison Weeks, reporting for KRON-TV, says San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and school officials in the city announced last fall their intention to develop this housing for a minimum of 100 educators. The bill will provide rental assistance for at least 100 teachers, 200 down payment assistance loans, and $250,000 in housing counseling services each year over the next five years.

Two locations have been identified by the district to be used for possible home sites for educators, and the SFUSD is currently coordinating with the mayor’s office to develop the plans for financing the sale of these homes. The city has set aside $2 million in pre-development funds for the 2016-2017 fiscal year and is planning to begin at least one project within 24 months.

“This is a major win for San Francisco’s teachers who have struggled, like many, in the current housing climate,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement today. “SB 1413 delivers on the promise that we are building housing for school district employees – teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators who are dedicated to our students, parents and schools.”

The legislation was much needed since Fair Housing laws limit the number of sections that may be used to build homes assigned for only district employees. The bill will allow the project to qualify for federal low-income housing credits, which will give developers another incentive to become involved.

California school districts are suffering from a deficit of teachers and other professionals. Teacher credentials issued by the state have decreased by 26% since the 2009-2010 school year. Statewide predictions for job openings for new teachers are positive, reports Leno’s office.

The Bay Area and San Francisco, in particular, have real estate prices that are too high for teachers to afford, resulting in the exodus of many teachers in the area. In San Francisco, 50% of teachers resign from their positions within five years of being hired, and affordable homes are one of the major factors.

Earlier this year, the Board of Supervisors approved eviction protections that would eliminate most no-fault evictions against SFUSD employees and families when school is in session.

Leno explained, says Melody Gutierrez, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, that the new legislation would connect districts with private companies to create housing options to keep teachers in their communities.

The lack of affordable access to housing has also affected SFUSD’s ability to hire experienced paraprofessionals. The problem is acute when it comes to finding staff who work with young people with special needs. These employees are part-time workers and often must work at two jobs to afford a living space in San Francisco.

“It’s not a silver bullet, but it can certainly be beneficial to many teachers and school employees who prefer to live in the communities they work, and that can only benefit our students,” Leno told Michael Barba reporting for the San Francisco Examiner.