San Francisco Unified School District teachers, faculty and supporters rally in front of 555 Franklin Street the administration offices of the school district demanding higher pay to counter the rising cost of living. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)

SF closer to building teacher housing as state bill clears legislative hurdle

San Francisco could soon move forward with building affordable housing for educators under a bill that passed the state Assembly on Wednesday.

If signed into law next week, Senate Bill 1413 would allow school districts in California to lease property for the development of housing for teachers and other district employees. At present, Fair Housing laws and other restrictions prevent cities from creating housing solely for teachers, who have been struggling with the high cost of living throughout the state.

For the San Francisco Unified School District, the new law would mean that at least one of two surplus properties in the district — the locations of which have yet to be disclosed — could be redeveloped to house its employees beginning in the next two years, according to Mayor Ed Lee.

“This is a major win for San Francisco’s teachers who have struggled, like many, in the current housing climate,” Lee said in a statement.

In San Francisco, the national teacher shortage has been compounded by high rents and a lack of housing in a city roiled by another tech boom.

As a result, the SFUSD has also experienced a shortage of paraprofessionals — especially those who work with children with special needs — who are part-time workers and often have to hold down two jobs to afford housing in The City.

“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,” Lee said.

In May, San Francisco also began to offer loans to city-based educators looking to buy their first home.

Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, introduced the bill in response to high rents and the teacher shortage around California, but in particular 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 the San Francisco Examiner.

While the bill passed the assembly Wednesday afternoon, it will return to the Senate before heading to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk by next week.

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