Invest in teacher housing for our students and communities

San Francisco must invest in educator housing to address The City’s teacher attrition rate. (Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner file photo)

Facing a severe teacher attrition rate, San Francisco must address the housing needs of an educational workforce that is critical to the health and stability of our school communities. Currently, the school district needs to hire 500-700 teachers each year, with 64 percent of its teachers spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent and nearly 15 percent spending more than half of their income on housing.

While addressing the school district’s recruitment and retention challenges, housing for teachers and other school staff such as paraeducators, nurses, and social workers will also cut down on their long commute and live and invest their time in the communities that they serve.

As reported in the Examiner, city leaders have focused increasing attention on these urgent issues. Notably, the City and School District are currently working together to develop the first teacher/paraeducator housing project of 130 units in the Outer Sunset at the Francis Scott Key Annex. The School District is also actively seeking developers for three more surplus District properties in Inner Sunset, Laurel Heights and Bayview, and we’ve identified four other underutilized SFUSD sites in the Sunset District that similarly could be developed as housing. Finally, Mayor London Breed has included educator housing in two broader affordable housing measures she has proposed for the November ballot.

These local efforts coincide with the state government’s first ever consideration of funding proposals to specifically address the shortage of teacher housing. Governor Gavin Newsom’s May revision to the state budget proposes $250 million in grants to support technical assistance and staffing to develop plans to reach higher statewide housing goals. Local governments, including school districts and county offices of education, would receive these grants.

Also proposed in the state budget is $500 million in expanded tax credits in 2019–20 and up to $200 million of the newly authorized credits would be available to increase the development of mixed-income housing projects serving a broader range of incomes (between 30 to 120 percent Area Median Income) and allow more teachers and educators to access affordable housing. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has also been in full support of both proposals.

As we expand plans for teacher housing in our city, we may have a unique opportunity to access state funding to build these projects. Please ask your state legislators to support the teacher housing funding proposals in Governor Newsom’s May Budget Revise. As this workforce constitutes a cornerstone of our communities, we must increase investment in affordable teacher housing.

Gordon Mar is a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and Mark Sanchez is a member of the San Francisco Board of Education

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