Coronavirus Relief: Marin Co. school district teams up with organization to offer affordable housing for teachers

MARIN COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- California is bracing for some severe budget cuts due to state revenue loss caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

One school district in Marin County is preparing for the worst by joining forces with an organization to begin providing rent-restricted housing for some of its teachers.

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Alexander McMullen lives in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury neighborhood with two roommates.

He teaches in the Larkspur-Corte Madera School District in Marin County where rents, he says, are more expensive.

"Every year when the school year starts I think, oh, this is the year I will be able to save more and actually put some money away and it never is," said McMullen.

The superintendent of that school district anticipates overall budget cuts are going to be devastating in the wake of COVID-19.

That's because the cost of living adjustment may be reduced from 3% and year to zero. Some schools also rely on property taxes for funding and those are expected to be lower.

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"We are looking at greatly reducing our budget by $850,000 plus for next school year which is roughly 5% of our budget," said Superintendent Dr. Brett Geithman.

This could affect the district's ability to retain and hire teachers.

Enter Catalyst Housing Group which buys market-rate properties and converts them to rent-restricted communities.

In February, the organization purchased the Serenity apartment complex in Larkspur, 342 units. It will now begin to offer rent-restricted one and two-bedroom apartments to teachers and district staff.

"And the reason we decided to start with teachers was if your look at starting salaries for teachers in Marin County they are averaging about $50,000 if you look at rents in Marin County they average about $2,800," said Jordan Moss, founder of Catalyst Housing Group.

Even though qualified teachers will be offered these discounted rates, some can't even afford that. That's why the Essential Housing Fund was created.

The Fund will help pay for their security deposits and contribute one-thousand dollars toward their moving expenses.

McMullen says he'd love to live in the community he serves.

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