Supervisors Support "Teacher Housing" in the West Valley

SUPERVISORS SUPPORT "TEACHER HOUSING" IN THE WEST VALLEY

SAN JOSE – Yesterday, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal from County Supervisors Joe Simitian and Otto Lee to pursue options to develop teacher housing in the West Valley.

“We know there’s a shortage of affordable housing for educators,” said Simitian. “But there are solutions. When our kids’ teachers can spend fewer hours in the car each day, stick around to help a struggling student, participate in after-school activities, and put down roots in the community, it’s really a winner all-around. Better for the teachers, better for students, and better for the environment.”

“There is a great need in our community for high-quality teachers so anything we can do to help keep teachers in the area and attract new ones benefits our kids and schools,” said Lee. “This project has the potential to bring together a variety of partners to create something special for our educators.”

This proposal follows the Board’s approval earlier this year of a pilot educator workforce housing project in Palo Alto serving school districts in North Santa Clara County and southern San Mateo County. Simitian said news of that approval led school district and city officials in the West Valley to reach out to see if a similar project might be possible in their region.

“As a parent and longtime advocate for public education, I know the impact teachers can have on the lives of students,” said Hung Wei, Cupertino City Council member and past Trustee and Board President of the Fremont Union High School District, which serves families from Cupertino, Los Altos, San Jose, Santa Clara, Saratoga, and Sunnyvale. “Teachers not only help students achieve academic success, they also help foster social growth and development of passion and talent. Teachers who live in the community can stay longer after school to tutor and answer questions, be a coach for sports, volunteer as an adviser for clubs and support extracurricular student activities. Having teachers live in the community amongst their students allows these role models and trusted support system members to have even more positive interactions with students." 

The Simitian/Lee proposal directs County Administration to work with stakeholders in the West Valley to identify possible project sites, including but not limited to County-owned sites, and develop a path forward to advance the development of housing for school employees, including both teachers and classified non-teaching staff.

“This is a great opportunity to find housing solutions for the ‘missing middle’,” said Sarah Chaffin, founder of SupportTeacherHousing.org. “As rents continue to rise, it’s becoming harder and harder for educators and other moderate-income earners, who are the backbone of our society, to stay in the West Valley, and California. I’m excited to see the County collaborating with local stakeholders to explore innovative solutions to help solve the housing crisis for the missing middle.”

This new effort builds upon significant work the County has been doing in recent years to invest in the broader development of affordable housing. The County has worked to fill gaps in the existing affordable housing supply, including around permanent supportive housing, housing for people with extremely low incomes, and housing for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Since 2018, the County has also been working to develop a teacher housing project (proposed by Simitian) on County-owned land in Palo Alto. The 110-unit project has since received funding from the City of Palo Alto, the County, and Meta (formerly known as Facebook) and will serve employees from North County school districts and southern San Mateo County making between 60-140% of the Area Median Income. The project design and environmental impact report were approved earlier this year.

The progress on that effort, said Simitian, has been encouraging, and is proof positive that “this is not an insoluble problem. Project by project we can increase the supply of affordable housing and strengthen our schools. As a former school board member, and the son of a local schoolteacher, I know keeping teachers and school staff in the communities they serve has the ability to benefit our schools and our kids, as well as the community at large.”

The full proposal for the West Valley can be accessed here.

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Press Releases

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Education
Housing & Homelessness

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