At DCG Strategies, we’re privileged to work with local school districts to address the extensive need for teacher housing in California, especially in super-high-cost areas. Teachers and school employees who work in areas like Silicon Valley are easily priced out of most local housing options.
The problem only grows as real estate demand soars and state school funding lingers at one of the lowest rates in the country. The numbers are grim; as of May 2019, San Jose teachers with a median income of $79,624 could afford only 0.7% of for-sale listings. To stay competitive in attracting and retaining top talent, East Side Union High School District in San Jose turned to DCG Strategies for help with a teacher housing idea.
A Solution to the Teacher Housing Crisis
East Side Union High School District, or ESUHSD, is the largest high school district in Northern California. Superintendent Chris Funk regularly advocates for public school funding increases, pointing out the disconnect between teacher salaries and local living expenses. To address the problem as quickly as possible, the ESUHSD Board of Trustees allocated 4.5 acres of district land to build workforce housing for its employees.
With that goal in mind, district leadership also began working with DCG Strategies to assess the potential number of units and costs for the development of the District-owned site. DCG Strategies was hired by ESUHSD in July 2019 to complete a land use analysis on their current District Office site with the goal of determining how many residential units can be built for employee housing.
DCG’s analysis proposed building 100 executive style housing units on the site. If approved, teachers and district employees can live in the new one, two, and three-bedroom apartments for up to seven years at below-market rates. DCG also worked with the district to build a project budget with a total cost of $60 million. Meanwhile, the DCG team spoke with city leadership to get feedback on zoning and plans for the teacher housing project, finally submitting a formal planning permit in October 2019.
Funding Teacher Housing
To fund the new workforce project, ESUHSD will need to rely on taxpayer money to fund a $60 million general obligation bond, scheduled to be on the ballot in March 2020. Superintendent Funk compares the bond to a home loan that will need to be repaid over a number of years. The school district will retain ownership of the teacher housing and workforce housing property, and all revenue from rents will go toward the general fund and continue to support the district. ESUHSD hopes to use some of this future revenue to help teachers with down payments on their first homes.
Benefits of Workforce Housing
There are many benefits when teachers can live in the communities in which they work. Easing the constant worry of financial troubles extends beyond just teachers, too, since more grounded educators are more likely to be focused on the main goal: helping students succeed.
By working with DCG Strategies, East Side Union High School District now has a solid plan to improve the future of their schools and community with the help of teacher housing.