California state lawmakers have been working hard to address the affordable housing crisis and propose legislation to help educators live in the communities they serve — and on Thursday, Oct. 12, their hard work paid off. Gov. Jerry Brown approved an assembly bill designed to empower school districts to use school property in new ways.
Under the new bill, authored by Assembly Member Kevin Mullin (D-San Mateo County), school boards no longer need to go through a school district advisory committee and can bypass the surplus property process for workforce housing in either of the following circumstances:
- A lease or rental of excess real property to a private educational institution for the purpose of offering summer school in a facility of the school district, or
- The sale, lease or rental of excess real property to be used for teacher or school district employee housing.
Why Is This Important?
According to Apartment List data, fifth-year teachers in San Francisco have to spend nearly 70 percent of their income to rent a one-bedroom.
Take Etoria Cheeks, who teaches math at a public high school in San Francisco with a teaching credential and master’s degree yet cannot afford an apartment. After sleeping in a hostel and a homeless shelter, she eventually found a retired teacher who lets her sleep in a guest room until she can find a place she can afford.
“Technically, I’m still homeless until I have my own lease,” Cheeks told the San Francisco Chronicle. “San Francisco isn’t geared for me; it’s not built for someone like me.” Unfortunately she’s not wrong. According to Trulia, San Francisco teachers can afford less than 1 percent of the homes in the entire city. San Francisco Unified School District is taking steps to develop workforce housing but it’s a long road forward. DCG is working with school districts across the State but this bill will certainly help move the needle forward a little more.
With the approval of Assembly Bill No. 1157, the construction, reconstruction or renovation of rental housing facilities for school district employees is a permissible capital outlay expenditure. This allows districts to invest surplus property funds into workforce housing. Previous state law required these funds to be used exclusively for capital improvements to existing school facilities.
Additionally, this bill extends the property tax exemption for school, college or university property facilities to property that is used to provide rental housing for employees of one or more public school or community college districts.
According to the latest Berkeley IGS Poll, nearly half of the state’s registered voters say housing affordability an “extremely serious” problem in their area, and a majority have considered moving because of high housing costs.
The passage of this bill and legislators’ support of workforce housing can go a long way toward helping recruit and retain high-quality teachers, librarians, coaches and other school staff who support students.
Reach out to your state assembly member and state senator to support workforce housing bills. If your district wants to know more about how workforce housing can help recruit and retain educators, reach out to us to learn more.