Affordable housing development for teachers

June 3, 2008 9:35:18 AM PDT
The rental market in the Bay Area may be going through the roof, but Tuesday, in the heart of Silicon Valley, ground-breaking will take place for a brand new housing development where a special group of renters will be able to pay half the market rate.

Teachers in the Santa Clara School District are allowed to live in the rental units. There are plans to build another 30 more rental units for phase two of Casa Del Maestro - house of the teacher. Phase one has 40 units and was built in 2003 - it was such a success they decided to do an encore presentation.

Becky Pereira really likes the two bedroom home in Santa Clara she shares with her husband and 3-year-old daughter Allie. Being a teacher at Ponderosa Elementary School, and making in the neighborhood of $65,000 a year - what she likes best about her place is the price.

"My husband is still in school and we have been able to stay on top of our schooling expenses and also save for a house - so it has been really helpful," said Becky Pereira, elementary school teacher.

Her apartment costs her about $1,300 dollars a month, maybe half of what the market could bear.

The Santa Clara Teacher Housing Foundation came up with the plan to attract and retain teachers who might otherwise seek more affordable districts. To qualify, you have to have less than three years tenure. John George is the foundation's president.

"The school district owned the land, which is very fortunate, the construction was paid for with bonds - which are sold to the public and the rent is used to retire the debt," said George.

One other component had to fall into place as well, the construction company, Thompson-Dorfman, has a non-profit component to it - meaning it would charge only a small development fee developer's fee and no profit margin.

The school district says there are benefits other than the financial.

"Teachers get to live in their own community, which is a big thing for the community and the kids they serve because you see them out on the weekend and it really gives you that community feel," said Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley, Santa Clara School District.

The housing that will go up is so popular there's already a waiting list, and 3rd grade teacher Jenny Maehara is on it. For her, it would mean $600 more dollars per month in her pocket.

"I'm currently number 9 on the waiting list, my friend, number 2, just got in, so I have a good feeling about it," said Jenny Maehara, Ponderosa Elem. School teacher.

The housing foundation says what happened in Santa Clara, just can't happen a lot of other places.

"If you look around here, it is surrounded by apartment buildings. If this was surrounded by single family dwellings it would be a different story - it would be much more difficult to build it. But, you got to have land, that's the main thing," said George.

And there's a five year limit on how long teachers can live in the rentals. Long enough, it is hoped, for teachers to plan for their next place.

"Our five years are up in February, So we are looking now for a house in Santa Clara and we actually have an offer on a townhouse in Santa Clara," said Pereira.

Another big benefit now is gas prices. If you are living miles away to live in more affordable housing - the price at the pump could make a huge difference.


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