Teachers, faculty and supporters rally in front of the offices of the San Francisco Unified School District demanding higher pay to counter the high cost of living in The City. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner file photo)

Gov. Brown signs bill allowing SF to build teacher housing

A bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday will allow the San Francisco Unified School District to build housing for its educators amid a nationwide teacher shortage and housing crisis in The City.

Senate Bill 1413, authored by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, will allow California school districts to use federal tax credits, as well as local and state funds, when leasing property for the development of affordable housing for teachers and other school district employees.

Current Fair Housing laws restrict the use of affordable housing funds for individuals of particular occupations.

“When high quality teachers can’t afford to live where they work, the entire community suffers,” Leno said in a statement. “SB 1413 will help school districts directly address the housing affordability challenges facing teachers and reduce high turnover rates.”

For San Francisco, the bill means the SFUSD will be able to move forward with plans to build teacher housing after January 2017, when the law goes into effect.

Such housing would help lower teacher turnover rates, which can be costly to a school district, according to Leno’s office. It can cost about $18,000 to replace a teacher who leaves.

In summer 2015, the SFUSD had to replace about 700 teachers, according to the bill.

The SFUSD is working with the Mayor’s Office of Housing to potentially build the teacher housing development, which has yet to find a home in San Francisco. The school district and office have eyed two surplus properties that the district owns as potential sites for teacher housing.

According to the Mayor’s Office, at least one will be developed beginning in the next two years.

“Today, we deliver on a promise to help the educators of San Francisco live in the communities where they work each and every day with our most important people – our children,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement.

Lee said building housing for teachers, paraprofessionals and administrators would “attract and retain quality educators and invest in the future of our children.”

SB 1413 is among several of Leno’s bills the governor signed Tuesday, including a bill limiting the use of solitary confinement on youth in California.

“Prolonged use of room confinement is harmful to the mental and physical health of the young people in our care,” Leno said in a statement.

Under Senate Bill 1143, room confinement could not be used to punish or retaliate against incarcerated youths and could only be used for four hours at a time, after less-restrictive options have been exhausted.

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