Cañada campus housing — for workers

While employees in California’s schools, hospitals and public-safety agencies still struggle to afford housing close to their jobs, the San Mateo County Community College District is finding ways to build housing for its employees.

After the success of its 44-unit CollegeVista project at College of San Mateo, the district plans to add 60 additional apartments on the Cañada College campus in Redwood City. Those apartments could be available by mid-2009 — good news for the 83 families on the waiting list for CollegeVista, according to Barbara Christensen, director of government and community relations for the district.

The college district employs roughly 1,500 faculty and staff at its three campuses and district office.

“If we’re able to build 60 units at Cañada, that’s going to take care of most of our demand, because we’ve got 83 people on the wait list,” Christensen said.

In doing so, the district becomes one of the first in California to build its own employee housing, according to Chris Mohr, director of the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County.

New professors make $50,000 to $55,000 per year — more if they take on extra work. However, housing data shows that it takes a minimum salary of $63,880 per year to be able to afford to live in San Mateo County, Christensen said.

“People who are starting their careers and aren’t making as much money can’t get over the hurdle” to homeownership, Mohr said.

The college district offers its employees help with down payments, but found that even with that assistance, employees couldn’t save money while living in market-rate housing, Mohr said.

By using 2 acres of its own land at College of San Mateo, the district was able to build 44 units for $8.1 million — whereas purchasing the land elsewhere would have cost $6 million on its own, Christensen said. Rents in that building range from $788 for a one-bedroom apartment to $1,425 for three bedrooms.

A similar approach at Cañada should yield rents 50 percent below market rate, although rents haven’t been set, Christensen said.

In the meantime, the project must clear a number of hurdles, including environmental analysis and annexation of the parcel — part of which is in Woodside — to Redwood City, according to Redwood City Planning Manager Jill Ekas.

Then, plans must be approved by the college board, Woodside, Redwood City and the county’s Local Agency Formation Committee. Formal designs have not yet been submitted, Ekas said.

bwinegarner@examiner.com


Should the district house employees on campus?

Share your comments below.

businessBusiness & Real EstateLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

School district, teachers reach tentative agreement on distance learning

With less than two weeks until the start of the school year,… Continue reading

Boudin, Gascon defend NFL in controversy over Stephon Clark video

Public service announcement prompted pushback from California prosecutors association

State bill would allow families of police brutality victims to seek compensation

A group of state and local officials on Thursday joined two family… Continue reading

Retired officers seek end to decade-old age discrimination case

Retired officer Juanita Stockwell was 60 when she and her colleagues first… Continue reading

San Francisco schools estimate $25m needed to close digital divide

Private donations being sought to fund internet access, technology

Most Read