Facebook gives $25M to build affordable housing for teachers

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- An old building and a large parking lot on the 1.5-acre piece of land on 231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto, will soon become new affordable housing being built for teachers.

It is all possible because of a $25 million check from Facebook.

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Housing advocates call it the future model for getting affordable housing built in the Bay Area.

"I was extremely excited, especially to know that my girls and I have the potential to have a permanent residence," says Konstance Kirkendoll, an eighth-grade teacher in Menlo Park.

She and her two young daughters will be one of the new tenants to move into the new apartments once they are built, guaranteed a spot because of her participation in a previous affordable housing project.

"We teach here, and we want to live here, and want to create more of an impact so that we can feel part of the community that we are serving," explains Kirkendoll.

Between 90 and 120 units will be built for teachers and school employees, who work in Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Los Altos, Palo Alto and Mountain View.

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These are employees who may earn too much money to qualify for subsidized low-income housing, but who don't make enough to afford the skyrocketing cost of rents and mortgages in Silicon Valley.

In an email to ABC7 News quoting several Facebook executives, Facebook says they want to help teachers be able to live in the communities they serve.

"We hope partnerships like this can inspire other communities to develop their own innovative solutions to providing housing for teachers and other public service professionals," says John Tenanes, Facebook Vice President for Real Estate.

Rent will be capped at 30% of one's salary. For Kirkendoll, that means more money to spend on her kids - and no surprises.

"There are other rental properties that increase rent significantly, year after year, lease after lease. I don't necessarily have to worry about that because there is a cap," says Kirkendoll.

"There is no longer an excuse to sit on the sidelines. Your investment, your donations, your capital can help create affordable housing," says Kevin Zwick, CEO of Housing Trust Silicon Valley, which works get people into affordable housing.

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Zwick says what stands out about this project is that is part of a "community process." Santa Clara County donated the land, local school districts and cities contributed funds and Facebook's $25 million sealed the deal. He this is what the future of affordable housing will look like.

"What I see with this development, (is that) you are starting to see what that looks like when you see employers like Facebook, the county, school districts and housing organizations all coming together. That's really the model for we are going to solve our big problems around affordable housing," says Zwick.

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