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Mini Tutorial: Teacher Housing

Updated: Oct 5, 2022



Why is everyone talking about teacher housing these days?

Schools across California struggle to retain staff, whose publicly funded salaries often cannot compete with housing prices. This is especially true in the Bay Area, which has the greatest gap in the state between teacher salaries and rental costs. One school district in Milpitas is so desperate that it recently asked district families to rent rooms to teachers!


This is an issue even in relatively well-resourced districts like LLESD.

Despite very competitive salaries, many of our teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other employees are officially "cost-burdened" (meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing).

When school staff can't afford housing near their jobs, they must commute long distances.

This takes time away from both their students and families, adds congestion to the roadways, and pollutes the environment.

"When teachers live in or near their school communities, students also benefit. We want to be part of the community we teach in. We want to organize or attend after school events and support and encourage our students."

- Teri Baldwin, President of the Palo Alto Educators Association, Palo Alto Online


Over the last several years, many school districts have come up with a creative solution: building affordable staff housing on district-owned land.

This is often supported by bonds or a combination of public and private funding. In our neck of the woods, school staff housing has gone up in Palo Alto and Daly City. Right here in Menlo Park, the Ravenswood City School District hopes to build 90 units of staff housing on the former Flood School site. The Burlingame School District is also considering building staff homes on district land.

Staff housing built by the Jefferson Union High School District in Daly City

Photo credit: Serramonte del Rey Neighborhood project website.


While the state recently made it easier for schools to build staff housing on district land with the passage of AB 2295, this law doesn't help most schools in the Bay Area.

Construction costs in the Bay Area are too high and competition for limited funding is too great for most local school districts to take advantage of AB 2295 given the law's limitations on building heights (35 feet) and densities (30 units per acre). For example:

  • Ravenswood City School District could not attract bids from affordable housing developers to build for anything less than 36 units/acre.

  • The Jefferson Union High School District staff housing (in Daly City) built at 41 units/acre.

  • The new teacher housing project in Palo Alto is 80 units/acre.

  • The newest San Francisco Unified School District staff housing will be 95 units/acre.

To learn more about teacher housing in California

Check out EdSource's excellent, interactive resource, California's Teacher Housing Crunch.

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