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SF, school district to formalize collaboration in developing teacher housing

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Teachers and supporters of the San Francisco Unified School District rally outside the San Francisco Federal Building in April to highlight the lack of affordable housing in The City. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

The San Francisco Board of Education is expected to approve an agreement tonight that will solidify the partnership between the school district and The City as the first step in a joint endeavor to construct affordable housing for teachers.

The Memorandum of Understanding, among other things, sets the terms in which the San Francisco Unified School District and The City join forces around selecting a developer for the project, which is set to bring between 130 and 150 homes for teachers to the Outer Sunset.

Of those homes, 40 percent are proposed for educators making up to 60 percent of the area median income, while 60 percent will house those making between 61 percent and 150 percent of the AMI, according to the MOU.

The MOU describes “untenable rent burdens” for many of The City’s educators. An experienced educator making 100 percent of the AMI pays some 47 percent of his or her income for a market-rate, one-bedroom apartment (about $2,306).

Some 3,600 teachers are needed every year in San Francisco’s public school classrooms, yet the district is losing about 10 percent of its educators annually, according to the MOU. To address this gap, Mayor Ed Lee in May pledged $44 million to support affordable housing designed specifically for public school educators.

Since then, a working group comprised of SFUSD and city staff, as well as members of United Educators of San Francisco, The City’s teachers union, have met regularly to advise the development, which is proposed at the site of a former elementary school at 1360 43rd Ave.

“The MOU contemplates the development will be at [Francis Scott Key Annex] but parties are not obligated to build on the site until the ground lease is executed,” Blythe wrote in an email to the San Francisco Examiner. “The vote on the site will be determined and voted when we are ready to execute the ground lease.”

Approval of the MOU will allow The City and school district to develop criteria for searching for a developer and establish a selection process.

Both entities are tasked with engaging in a community outreach process and will work jointly to establish eligibility and occupancy requirements for the project, according to the MOU.

The working group’s goal is to “assist 500 educator houseful holds over five years through a combination of brick and mortar housing, rental and homeownership assistance and housing counseling,” Blythe said. According to data collected by the school district, some 74 percent of teachers and 73 percent of all SFUSD district staff lived in San Francisco as of June.

Board of Education President Shamann Walton said the working group’s pre-development conversations are ongoing, and that the MOU will likely meet approval at today’s hearing. “We continue to work together to iron out the details,” he said.

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