The California School Boards Association, or CSBA, published findings Tuesday with the potential to help develop affordable housing for educators.
According to CSBA Chief Information Officer Troy Flint, the research was developed by UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities and Schools and Terner Center for Housing Innovation, in a collaboration with the CSBA and researchers at UCLA’s cityLAB. He added the project was funded by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Jeff Vincent, co-founder and director of the Center for Cities and Schools, noted a key finding of the research revealed many public school districts across California own properties that can be converted into affordable housing for educators.
“There’s a lot of interest across the state in school districts in California for exploring possibilities for developing workforce housing,” Vincent said. “After doing a statewide scan, we identified almost 50 school districts in various stages of considering developing workforce housing.”
According to Vincent, the research was conducted to address California’s ongoing affordable housing crisis and particularly its effects on public education. He highlighted the crisis’s impact on staff turnover and its consequent negative effect on academic achievement.
Flint added that the conversion of underutilized property into housing for school staff will stabilize the educator workforce, providing better outcomes — especially for low-income students who are disproportionately affected by the housing crisis.
“Right now we have about 300,000 public school teachers and almost equal numbers of support staff who are unable to live in the communities where they work,” Flint said. “Because California underfunds the schools, school districts are not in a position to compete with the private sector on equal terms, so finding creative ways to enhance the appeal can help level the playing field.”
According to the study, the next step in developing education workforce housing will be the “predevelopment stage,” wherein decisions will be made about site, design, tenancy and financing, along with community engagement. Four housing developments have already been completed by Los Angeles Unified and Santa Clara Unified, the study reads.
Flint added that the project would continue to dispense information. He also emphasized the land converted into educator housing would remain in the public domain.
“This is not about selling public land to private interests,” Flint said. “The focus here is on keeping these as public assets but using them in a way that has greater benefit for school staff.”
However, housing developers have been facing challenges in funding, according to John Calise, executive director of the facilities division of the Berkeley Unified School District.
While state policies such as the Teacher Housing Act of 2016 have aided efforts, more funding would be beneficial, Calise said.
“There are a lot of predevelopment costs — like community outreach, doing feasibility analysis, doing the architectural designs,” Vincent said. “There could be grants from the state to help this happen.”