Schools

Teacher housing proposal moves forward with FHDA

The Foothill-De Anza Community College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Aug. 27 to take the first steps in supporting the creation of affordable teacher housing in Palo Alto.

The board directed Chancellor Judy C. Miner to identify sources of funding, up to $600,000, which could be used to support the effort already underway by Santa Clara County.

Originally proposed by Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Joe Simitian, the project aims to bring workforce housing to teachers in one of the most expensive housing markets in the country.

“It’s better for everyone – folks trying to avoid traffic, kids getting an education, school districts trying to hire and retain the very best teachers for our schools, and of course our teachers themselves – when our teachers can live in or close to the communities where they teach,” Simitian said. “It’s never easy to develop workforce housing in such an expensive area, but we have the land, we have some funding available and we’re finding the partners we need to make this work.”

In January, Simitian proposed building teacher housing on the county-owned 1.5-acre site at 231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto, across the street from the County Courthouse, and replacing the parking on that site with a parking structure on the Courthouse lot.

In response to Simitian’s proposal:

• The Board of Supervisors agreed to set the site aside for teacher housing pending a more detailed plan.

• The board in April agreed to set aside $6 million to help fund the project, using funds from the Stanford Affordable Housing Fund, money the county specifically designated for the creation of affordable housing near the Stanford University campus.

• The Palo Alto City Council in June unanimously voted to set aside $3 million to help fund the project, contingent on a formal proposal acceptable to the city.

Following the latest action by the Foothill-De Anza board, Simitian said he was pleased that the project had “developed so much momentum so quickly.”

He noted that he had preliminary conversations with four other districts – Los Altos, Mountain View Los Altos Union High School, Mountain View Whisman and Palo Alto Unified – all of which expressed interest in participating.

“Great teachers are moving out of the Bay Area due to the housing crisis,” said Sarah Chaffin, a local mother and founder of supportteacherhousing.org.

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