As the region’s housing affordability crisis shows no signs of waning, innovative financing solutions to educator housing offer school district staff some hope.
231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto is the proposed site for a future workforce housing project designed to house faculty and staff working at school districts in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties. According to 231grant.org, the project’s primary goal is to affordably house school district staff who are otherwise unable to qualify for low-income housing but do not make enough to afford market-rate rents in the communities they serve. The County of Santa Clara has partnered with Abode Communities and Mercy Housing, two nonprofit affordable housing developers, to make this vision a reality.
School districts around Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties have begun weighing decisions to invest in the project. Last week, the Los Altos School District’s (LASD) Board of Trustees approved such a funding agreement with Santa Clara County. The District will contribute $600,000 to the project in exchange for 12 below-market-rate units reserved for LASD faculty and staff. Last Tuesday, the Palo Alto Unified School District’s (PAUSD) Board of Education made a similar decision to contribute $1.45 million to the project in exchange for 29 units reserved for PAUSD faculty and staff.
The 231 Grant Avenue property is owned by the County of Santa Clara but remains within the incorporated boundary of the City of Palo Alto.
In 2019, Facebook contributed $25 million to the project to support employees of school districts in southern San Mateo County. The County of Santa Clara contributed $6 million and the City of Palo Alto contributed $3 million.
Other school districts on the peninsula have weighed similar decisions. The Jefferson Union High School District (JUHSD) in Daly City opened 705 Serramonte Boulevard last year, a 122-unit complex exclusively available to JUHSD faculty and staff.