Building a Better Bay Area: Housing just for teachers to keep them in the Bay Area

SAN MATEO COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Renting an apartment can be a challenge for teachers in the Bay Area.

New teachers in the Jefferson Union High School District start out at about $50,000 a year, but according to the latest report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a two-bedroom apartment in San Mateo County requires an income of more than $124,000.

The Board of Trustees realized this was unsustainable as the district saw 20% of its teachers leave annually over the past few years.

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Thanks to their local voters, they have some help on the way.

A giant parking lot at the Jefferson Union High School District office in Daly City is now the site of future homes for more than a hundred teachers.

Board of Trustee President Andy Lie said, "...for us to be able to have this land where we have a two and a half, three-acre site here, we can offer up housing for up to nearly a quarter of our staff is absolutely huge for us.

This project was made possible by a bond measure passed in November.

BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: Keeping teachers in the Bay Area

The four story development will have 116 units and is scheduled to open in 2022.

District officials say it will have the typical amenities of a private development, but the rent will be 50% below market for teachers and staff.

That's a huge break for teachers, some with a starting salary of just more than $49,000 per year.

At today's rates that means they will pay just $1,200 for a 1 bedroom, $1,600 for a 2 bedroom and $2,100 for a 3 bedroom apartment.

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District officials plan on putting a ten-year cap for how long a teacher can live in the development.

They also plan on offering a mortgage assistance program with matching funds.

Teacher's Union President Monica Casey says the salaries and benefits are not enough for a teacher to live on in San Mateo County.

That's why she was pleased to see local voters approved a new parcel tax in this past June's election.

That will give teachers an extra 5% bump in compensation this summer.

But what little extra they get in their paychecks, a lot more is going out.

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The Jefferson Union High School District used to pay for health care coverage but as prices soared, the teachers took on more and more of the burden.

The cheapest plan has teachers paying about $600 a month out of pocket.

The question now, will these affordable housing projects and taxpayer-backed raises be enough to keep teachers in education?

"The majority of the people this is their dream or their passion, and then when they find out they can't make ends meet then they have to look for something that is not their passion," said Casey.

Several school districts here in the Bay Area have discussed teacher housing but in some cases it did not receive the support needed from the community.

Jefferson Union also has the advantage of building on land it already owns.
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