More teacher housing projects in the works

School district seeking proposals for three new sites in Inner Sunset, Laurel Heights and Bayview

With Planning Department approval still pending on a first-of-its-kind teacher housing project in the Sunset District, the San Francisco Unified School District is already moving ahead with plans for similar projects on other sites around The City.

On March 1, the district issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) seeking developers for three sites to build mixed-income, and possibly mixed-use housing projects with units reserved for educators.

The sites being considered include a 1.9 acre school district property at Seventh Avenue and Lawton Street, a current SFUSD counseling office at 20 Cook St., and a Bayview site at 200 Middle Point Road.

Plans to build more than 130 units of educator housing in the Outer Sunset for The City’s first teacher housing project are already underway at the Francis Scott Key Annex.

Per the RFQ, SFUSD’s need for 3,600 teachers each year is “challenged” by a 10 percent attrition rate, 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 it.

The district hopes to lower this attrition rate “through the creative use” of its surplus and underutilized real properties, and is seeking one or more qualified developers for the job.

So far, the district has received responses from seven developers. Finalists are expected to be selected by the Board of Education later this month.

Applicants with experience in constructing and operating public-private housing developments are being asked to pitch ideas on how to swiftly secure financing — which is notoriously difficult for affordable housing projects — for “turn-key workforce housing Projects that will provide the greatest number of SFUSD Educators with affordable living opportunities.”

The properties would remain in the hands of the district, which is proposing 66-year leases. It is unclear at this point how many housing units the sites could hold, but SFUSD would require selected developers to maximize both the number of units on site as well as the percentage of below market rate units reserved for educators.

Per the RFQ, financing could come from bonds, low-income housing and new market tax credits, and from rent paid by market-rate tenants, among other sources.

“We kept the RFQ open to make sure we explore all opportunities, including 100 percent affordable projects. There are a range of paths that potential development projects might take,” said SFUSD spokesperson Laura Dudnick in a statement on Tuesday. “We are hoping any developer(s) selected will help the district identify solutions that can maximize affordable housing for educators, as well as identify potential revenue-generating opportunities for SFUSD.”

Additional sites proposed

District officials are not the only ones looking at potential sites for more teacher housing.

Supervisor Gordon Mar, who represents the Sunset District, told the San Francisco Examiner that he has identified “four other underutilized school district sites” in the Sunset that he “would like to explore replicating the educator housing project on.”

Those sites are the SFUSD Testing Center at 3045 Santiago St., a School Health Programs office at 1515 Quintara St., 1775 44th Ave., which houses the Noriega Early Education School and 1550 25th Ave., which houses the district’s Jefferson Early Education School.

Mar said that the early childcare education programs currently operating at two of his proposed sites would not need to be displaced. Rather, he believes housing can be added on top of the childcare facilities.

“Affordable housing for educators and families is the type of higher density development that most Sunset residents desire,” said Mar, giving as evidence the “strong neighborhood support” for the Francis Scott Key Annex project.

He told the Examiner that he would be open to making the housing available to qualifying families of children attending SFUSD as well as educators.

In April, Mayor London Breed announced two ballot initiatives focused on expanding and accelerating affordable housing production citywide by removing bureaucratic and zoning hurdles.

The first is a charter amendment that will fast track 100 percent affordable and teacher housing projects by making approval “by right,” meaning they would be exempt from discretionary review and appeals if they meet zoning requirements.

Breed is also working to place a measure on the November ballot that would rezone all publicly owned land, with the exception of parks, to allow for 100 percent affordable housing and teacher housing.

Last week, Breed and Board of Supervisors President Norman Yee, whose district includes the 7th Avenue and Lawton Street site identified in the RFQ, announced that they also plan to place a $500 million affordable housing bond on the November ballot. The proposal currently allocates $20 million for housing for educators and middle-income residents earning between 80 and 175 percent Area Median Income.

Mar said that he would prefer to see the sites he’s identified developed as 100 percent affordable housing, similar to the Francis Scott Key Annex site, using funding from the housing bond and other sources.

He added that he is supportive of SFUSD “looking at some sort of a mixed-use development with some market-rate housing or even on top of commercial space as a way to pay for subsidies for educators and district worker housing.”

“I’m finding that the development of affordable housing is a very complicated process in lining up the funding,” said Mar.

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