A 110-unit development is being built to serve teachers and school staff members who are struggling with high housing costs in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Nonprofits Abode Communities and Mercy Housing are co-developing the project with significant support from Santa Clara County.
“No one wins when teachers have to commute from miles and miles away,” said Santa Clara County supervisor Joe Simitian, who proposed the development. “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.”
The county is one of the most expensive housing jurisdiction in the country, with the average rent topping $3,000, according to multiple market reports.
231 Grant is being developed on county-owned land in Palo Alto. Officials say the development, which recently celebrated its groundbreaking, will be a model for other developments throughout the 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 Mercy Housing California.
Abode Communities president and 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.”
The development team led an extensive community engagement process to elevate feedback from neighborhood residents, educators, union representatives, and other 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% to 140% of the area median income.
The approximately $93.9 million project is made possible in part by a $25 million grant from Meta, formerly Facebook.
“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 school districts in the county—Palo Alto Unified School District, Los Altos School District, Mountain View Whisman School District, and Foothill-DeAnza Community College District—are also 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.
Century Housing and the San Francisco Housing Accelerator Fund are also financial partners in the project.
The development was designed by Van Meter Williams Pollack and is being constructed by Cahill Contractors.