Survey: Teachers in South San Francisco Unified School District want workforce housing- by Austin Walsh SAN MATEO DAILY JOURNAL

South San Francisco, CA   September 29, 2016 Rebroadcast from SMDJ Austin Walsh Article 

Survey: Teachers in South San Francisco Unified School District want workforce housing September 29, 2016, 05:00 AM By Austin Walsh Daily Journal
A majority of South San Francisco Unified School District employees recently surveyed showed interest in living in a workforce housing project discussed by officials as a means of easing the affordability challenges faced by many local educators. {ESC notes only 31% of workforce were included in this survey}

The results of the survey querying 293 district workers regarding the financial hurdles blocking them from living near the communities where they teach or serve will go before the Board of Trustees in an upcoming meeting Thursday, Sept. 29.

Fifty-seven percent of the surveyed employees said they would be at least somewhat interested in an affordable workforce housing project, as 65 percent of the participants are renters and many are frustrated with the expense of living locally. Of those supporting the initiative, 45 percent said they would be very interested and 12 percent said they would be somewhat interested.

South San Francisco school officials have targeted pieces of surplus district property to convert into potential workforce housing sites, but held off pursuit in the interest of waiting to gauge employees’ desire for such projects.

With the survey illustrating a substantial interest, board President Patrick Lucy said it is the responsibility of district officials to explore potential opportunities.

“If it is an idea that our teachers want, and it is a deal that we can do financially, we are going to try to do it,” he said.

Of the survey participants, 65 percent said they would prefer to live closer to work but claim the significant expense of either renting and buying a home in San Mateo County has been an obstacle. Full-time teachers accounted for 64 percent of the survey participants, which included staff members from each campus as well as the district office.

Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed said they would like to keep teaching, but plan to move to another district in the next five years primarily due to the cost of living in and around South San Francisco.

Superintendent Shawnterra Moore found it interesting 52 percent of district staff who wish to live locally would prefer a single-family home, so she questioned whether the types of projects most likely to be built by the district would be attractive, said district spokesman Ryan Sebers.

“She looks forward to hearing more from our community about whether the desire is still as high if we build workforce housing that is more comparable to apartments,” he said.

In all though, the superintendent was pleased with the outcome of the outreach effort, said Sebers.

“Dr. Moore is thrilled with the interest that has been solicited through the survey,” he said. “There is a clear need for more affordable housing in the Bay Area in general, but specifically in the county of San Mateo.”

Discussions of constructing workforce housing developments have become popular means of attempting to attract and retaining educators for districts throughout the area.

Often school districts cannot offer salaries competitive with the high wages available in the tech sector, so officials have turned to eyeing innovative approaches such as building affordable housing developments on underutilized pieces of property to keep qualified and talented workers.

The San Mateo County Community College District is recognized as a local leader in such initiatives, as two district campuses already feature more than 100 units for staff to rent and plans are in the works to build more.

San Mateo Union High School District officials have recently discussed following the community college district’s lead in seeking to build workforce housing projects on the campuses of Mills and Peninsula Alternative high schools.

Easing the path for such efforts is Gov. Jerry Brown signing a piece of legislation Tuesday, Sept. 27, authored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, allowing districts to access federal tax credit to finance construction of the projects while limiting occupancy solely to school employees.

Of the South San Francisco Unified School District employees surveyed, only 26 percent said they would not be interested in an affordable housing project. The survey included 31 percent of the entire workforce.

As district officials look for ways to please its educators, Lucy said the board will examine the feasibility of all possibilities.

“We are going to look into all opportunities to help out our teachers,” he said.

The South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees meets 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19, at Baden High School, 825 Southwood Drive.

austin@smdailyjournal.com

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105
– See more at: http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2016-09-29/survey-teachers-in-south-san-francisco-unified-school-district-want-workforce-housing/1776425169049.html#sthash.DmY11fBh.dpuf

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COMMENTS:

Nathan Hale · Pescadero, California
Building a “company town” specifically for a targeted group of citizens is wrong for several reasons:
1) institutionalizing housing discrimination based on occupation.
2) using taxpayer dollars for the benefit of one specific group – government employees
3) immersing government into the property management business
4) high probability of cost overruns; financial mismanagement and long-term obligations

Gov. Brown signed a bill that permits this type of enterprise, apparently. But what message does this send? All citizens must have housing. All forms of honest labor is valuable in our economy. So, if you aren’t a teacher, you are left out in the cold by your own local.government?

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