How San Francisco hopes to retain teachers through affordable housing options

Lyanne Melendez Image
Monday, November 6, 2023
How SF hopes to retain teachers through affordable housing options
San Francisco is trying desperately to catch up on affordable housing for teachers, with options coming in the Sunset and Mission districts.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The affordability crunch is all too common for many teachers in the Bay Area.

"I have not been able to just be a teacher. I also have to pick up side jobs," said Emily Madriz, a young teacher in San Francisco.

Today, a large number of educator households in cities like San Francisco spend nearly half of their salaries on rent.

That's a problem when trying to retain them.

VIDEO: Teacher turns to NextDoor to find 2nd job to afford living in San Francisco

If you have been struggling to stay in the Bay Area because of high cost of living, you'll relate to this story. While cities are desperately trying to build more housing, it may come too late for some people, like teachers, firefighters and anyone trying to earn a living wage.

"The school districts have seen when educators don't feel like they can afford to live in the communities that they teach, that it's difficult for them to be attracted to new jobs and to keep them in the jobs they already have," expressed Anne Stanley of the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development.

"I feel that all teachers that live in their school area, benefit from being so close, not only for getting to know the community at a very personal level but also to be able to represent the community," added Madriz.

But not so long ago, some local communities and teachers themselves rejected any proposals to build teacher housing.

Take Dianne Feinstein Elementary in the Sunset District. When it was built in 2005, the plans included a 45-unit building for teachers and staff. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development was ready to provide some funds, but the community and then Supervisor Leland Yee opposed it and it never got built.

"They said oh, it's a public housing project, never let HUD get involved, it will be a slum," former school board member Jill Wynns said.

VIDEO: San Francisco Unified School District, teachers' union reach tentative agreement

The San Francisco Unified School District and its teachers' union reached a tentative contract agreement early Friday morning.

Now San Francisco is trying desperately to catch up. The old Francis Scott Key Annex in the outer Sunset District will now be the Shirley Chisholm Village with 135 units. Lottery applications for teachers and district staff will be available early next year. It was supposed to be completed by 2022 but the pandemic set them back and is now set to open in late 2024.

Teachers will be able to stay in their units, as long as they are employed by San Francisco Unified.

Meanwhile, in the Mission District street vendors stand in front of what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for teachers to finally own property. An old abandoned building on Mission and 18th streets was once an appliance store until the Mission Economic Development Agency, MEDA, purchased it.

"We see a lot of folks displaced like having to move out and at the end of the day we don't have qualified teachers staying in San Francisco," said Elaine Yee, of MEDA.

The Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development has now set aside $12 million to begin converting the building into 63 units comprised of two and three bedroom below-market-rate condos for teachers to be completed by 2025-2026.

VIDEO: SF school district starts new year with massive teacher shortage

The new school year for the San Francisco Unified School district began Wednesday with a large shortage of teachers.

"So for a three person family making say $99,000 a year, that would equate to about $359,000 for a two bedroom condo," outlined Stanley.

Going forward, the intention is for these condos to always be affordable for teachers so that means there will be restrictions on the resale price of each condo.

There are plans to build more housing at a parking lot on Franklin Street a block from the school district. It will be another rental property for teachers and staff.

The land was previously owed by the state. The same non-profit developing the Shirley Chisholm Village will manage the construction of 75 affordable rental units.

To qualify, the household income must be between $42,000 and $160,000.

"We are the pillar of change that help other folks become pillars of change," said Madriz. "I was born here in San Francisco, I am a native, I grew up here, this is my home and I am not able to live here. Affordable housing would be so helpful."

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live