Aug 22Breaking Ground on Homes for Educators in Palo Alto
Leaders from Santa Clara County, the City of Palo Alto, and co-developers Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California celebrate groundbreaking of 110 affordable homes for teachers, school district staff, and their families, in partnership with Meta, San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund, Century Housing, school districts, and more key partners.
Abode Communities, Mercy Housing California, Santa Clara County, Meta, and local school districts celebrated the groundbreaking of 231 Grant, a 110-home affordable community that will serve teachers, school district staff, and their families. Developed on County-owned land, 231 Grant was proposed by County Supervisor Joe Simitian in 2018 in an effort to create equitable housing opportunities near schools and attract and retain top-quality educators. In total, four school and community college districts in Santa Clara County have signed on to participate. The project will also serve teachers and school staff in several southern San Mateo County school districts.
The development was made possible in part by $25 million in grant funding from Meta. The company has been supporting teachers in the Ravenswood City School District near its Menlo Park Campus with subsidized rent since 2017.
As rents have increased throughout the Bay Area, many school district staff have faced challenges finding high-quality affordable housing near their workplaces. “No one wins when teachers have to commute from miles and miles away,” said Simitian. “It’s harder to attract and retain the best teachers when the cost of housing is so high. And time in the car is time not spent with students or preparing lesson plans. When teachers are forced out of the housing market, they become more and more remote from the communities where they teach. By having our teachers live and work nearby, we’re strengthening their role in the community.”
“On behalf of the Palo Alto community, we are thrilled to celebrate the start of this wonderful affordable housing project that will serve teachers, school district staff, and their families,” said Lydia Kou, Palo Alto mayor. “Thank you to County Supervisor Joe Simitian, plus co-developers Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California, and Meta for their investment and leadership in furthering affordable housing in our community. We cannot wait to welcome the new residents of 231 Grant to the Palo Alto community.”
According to nonprofit newsroom EdSource, teachers throughout California struggle to afford housing in the districts where they work, and disparities between teacher pay and housing are most extreme in the Bay Area. The 231 Grant community, developed in partnership with Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California, will serve as a national model for future development throughout the region and state.
“Good educators play a vital role in building healthy communities, and it’s our honor to ensure they get to live in those communities along with the families they serve,” said Doug Shoemaker, President of co-developer Mercy Housing California.
Abode Communities’ President & CEO Holly Benson continued, “Our partnership on 231 Grant truly exemplifies a whole-community approach to addressing the urgent systemic issues of housing and education equity both in and out of the classroom.”
Leading nonprofit affordable housing developers Abode Communities and Mercy Housing California have collaborated on nine affordable communities throughout the state. Recent highlights of their collaboration include the streamlining of design, development, and financing for prefabricated modular housing in four supportive residential communities through the City of Los Angeles’ HHH Innovation Challenge.
“As a teacher in the Los Altos School District, I’m so grateful that our district has made this investment in housing for its employees,” said Chris Hazelton, educator at Covington Elementary School and President of the Los Altos Teachers Association. “This commitment from the districts and Santa Clara County ensures that more teachers are able to live, work, and thrive in our community.”
“Teachers and educational professionals are essential to healthy communities and play an important role in the development, success, and achievement of future generations,” said Ryan Patterson, Strategic Initiatives Director at Meta. “We believe that partnerships like this can serve as an inspiration and a blueprint for other communities to create innovative housing solutions for their public service professionals, ensuring they can continue to live and thrive in the Bay Area.”
Four Santa Clara County districts – Palo Alto Unified School District, Los Altos School District, Mountain View Whisman School District, and Foothill-DeAnza Community College District – are contributing funding to the development. Teachers and school employees in these districts, as well as multiple schools in southern San Mateo County, will be eligible to apply for the rental homes once they are completed.
The development team led an extensive community engagement process to elevate feedback from neighborhood residents, educators, union representatives, and other key stakeholders. More than 1,300 teachers and other school district staff informed the unit mix, which includes studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments with rents affordable to households earning 60%-140% Area Median Income. Once complete, the development will include:
- 110 affordable rental apartments for teachers, school district staff, and their families
- Private indoor and outdoor communal spaces
- Large, landscaped courtyard/recreation areas on the second floor
- Indoor lounge and community space
- Secured bike parking
- Full-time onsite property management provided by Mercy Housing Management Group
Construction completion and occupancy is anticipated in summer 2025. The development was designed by award-winning architecture and urban design firm Van Meter Williams Pollack, LLP, and is being constructed by respected Bay Area contractor Cahill Contractors. Financing has been provided by:
- County of Santa Clara
- City of Palo Alto
- Palo Alto Unified School District
- Los Altos School District
- Mountain View Whisman School District
- Foothill-DeAnza Community College District
- Century Housing Corporation
- San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund
For more information on 231 Grant, please visit www.231grant.org.
August 22, 2023
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