The Redwood community is a place that is valued. Due to Marin’s high housing prices, teachers in our community are forced to live elsewhere. The SF teacher housing project has Redwood High School teachers hoping the same will happen in our community.
According to Business Outsider, over the past decade, housing prices in San Francisco have continued to increase due to the simple concept of supply and demand. According to Investopedia, a financial investment and news website, San Francisco is the second most expensive city to live in the United States, with New York being the first.
Due to these extremely high living costs in addition to the current housing affordability crisis in the Bay Area, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee, after several past attempts, has finally allocated $44 million towards the construction of a teacher housing project in San Francisco’s Sunset District. The SF Chronicle states that these apartment units will be ready by 2022. This project will house around 60 to 90 teachers who are selected based on their family income. Chronicle states that teachers will pay about $3,100 per month for two bedrooms, which is roughly $1,000 less than the city’s average. In addition to reduced rent, teachers will not be spending nearly as much on commute.
Mayor Lee selected a site at the Francisco Scott Key Annex at 1360 43rd Ave. Lee will use the city’s Housing Trust Fund and Proposition A Housing Funds to build 100 to 150 apartment units for teachers and paraprofessionals.
Shamann Walton, president of San Francisco’s Board of Education, highlighted the difficulty, time and money that a teacher who commutes to work faces everyday. These challenges will be reduced by the new teacher housing project.
“Affordability is a major issue in the Bay Area, in San Francisco, and it’s unfortunate that our educators don’t have higher salaries. [This] is something else that we fight for, so the least that we can do is try to make sure that they can afford to live in the city that they work in,” Walton said.
While San Francisco is finally receiving teacher housing support, just across the Golden Gate Bridge, a similar situation has arisen for Marin County educators. According to Mansion Global, Marin County is the fourth most expensive county in California to live in. Some staff members at Redwood do not have the means to live here, which has forced them to find housing elsewhere.
David Minhondo, a social studies teacher at Redwood, commutes every day from Petaluma. Unable to afford housing in Marin County, he was forced to seek a more affordable county to live in with his family.
“With a growing family and wanting to have space and an actual backyard, there’s nothing around here for that price,” Minhondo said.
Walton elaborated on the steps that neighboring cities or counties could take in implementing a teacher housing project in their own community.
“If you have all the people in place on the front end actually when it’s time to break ground and actually build, there aren’t any issues or concerns because you built momentum up with the right people,” Walton said.
Minhondo described the need for teacher housing in the not so far future as Redwood’s staff grows.
“I think that right now it doesn’t seem like that big of an issue because I think a lot of our teachers have houses, but knowing the teachers who came in before and after me, most to all of us are feeling the crunch and it’s getting to the point that if you want to work at Redwood you can’t afford to live in the community,” Minhondo said.
Walton believes that a community that has both teachers and students living in the same area will help build deeper connections that can translate into the classroom.
“I think our educators are a fabric and a part of our community, so it’s always exciting for our young people to have their teachers in close proximity,” Walton said. “You can see them out when you’re at little league games, or at Pop Warner football games, or you can see them out in the community when you go to the park. Having your educator be a part of your community is a wonderful experience.”
Minhondo described a time when he was Christmas shopping in downtown Petaluma and he saw a student run into one of their local high school teachers. Seeing this interaction, he felt a lack of unity, as he couldn’t have that experience considering he lives about an hour away from Redwood.
“I don’t have that experience. To go to a football game on a weekend or come see a play at night means that I have to stay here from 6 a.m. in the morning to 9 p.m. at night,” Minhondo said.
Physical education teacher Ryan Lloyd lives and raises his family in Petaluma as well.
“In order to get the quality of life that we wanted, we had to go to Petaluma because anywhere south of Petaluma was above our price range. We also have to pay for full-time daycare,” Lloyd said.
Lloyd’s role as one of the boys’ varsity basketball coaches has provided more of a connection to student life despite his commute.
“I’m also a coach, which is an off-campus thing too, so you get to see kids outside of school. You get to be a part of the community on off-hours,” Lloyd said.
Teachers at Redwood who live in Marin have the advantage of going to sports events, music events, art events and game nights. Teachers who can’t afford to live in Marin, but want to participate in school activities are forced to commute to participate. With the demand for new teachers increasing, Minhondo expressed the importance of at least brainstorming ideas for future teacher housing development in Marin County.
Lloyd reflected on the valuable role that a teacher housing project would’ve played for him before he had a family.
“Maybe 10 years ago, when I was single, I’d live in an apartment. But now that I’m a family guy, it’s kind of hard to do that,” Lloyd said.