Located in the pricey San Francisco Bay Area housing market and faced with a roughly 25% staff turnover rate, leaders at the Jefferson Union High School District (JUHSD) decided they needed to take bold action—they became housing developers.
They recently opened a 122-unit workforce housing community in Daly City, just south of San Francisco.
705 Serramonte is home to a mix of JUHSD employees. Approximately 60% of the residents are certificated staff, such as teachers, counselors, and school psychologists, and about 40% of the residents are classified staff, such as bus and van drivers, custodians, food service workers, and office staff.
The new development gives district employees a place to live with rents starting at $1,356 per month in a city where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is about $2,113 a month, according to Zumper.
“JUHSD’s creation of 705 Serramonte came from the necessity to retain and recruit excellent staff dedicated to serving the students of this community,” says Tina Van Raaphorst, deputy superintendent. “Though staff truly enjoyed working for this district, they could not afford to stay in the area to do so.”
Officials recognized the need and created a plan to help address the issue with their own housing development. They believe they are the first to use voter-approved bond funds for this purpose, possibly creating a model for how other school districts can build affordable housing of their own.
School leaders from throughout the state have toured 705 Serramonte to learn about the project, according to Van Raaphorst.
The overall cost of the development was about $75.5 million. Of that amount, $33 million was provided through a bond measure approved by voters in 2018, and $45.5 million was borrowed through a certification of participation that will be repaid with income from rent.
Featuring one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, the development was designed by SVA Architects. J.H. Fitzmaurice, a firm experienced in partnering with nonprofit housing developers, was the builder.
“SVA’s vision was to design homes and community spaces that feel like a market-rate, luxury development,” says Nathan Herrero, principal at SVA Architects. “Along with the district, we wanted to honor the critical work of educators by offering comfortable spaces that feel like a haven at the end of the day.”
Homes range from 560 to 1,174 square feet and feature vinyl plank flooring, stainless steel appliances, and generous windows with abundant light. Community spaces include a lounge, a fitness center, and a central, landscaped courtyard with children’s play structures, a barbecue area, and ample seating.
“The overall design of the building is modern and sleek, and several community spaces are found throughout 705 Serramonte,” adds Van Raaphorst. “These spaces, including a large community room adjacent to the lobby on the first floor, common rooms on each floor, and an outdoor courtyard and playground space, encourage residents to socialize with each other on a daily basis. Along with wanting our staff to call 705 Serramonte home, the design of this building encourages them to create a sense of community. Another small unique touch was to put laundry [facilities] on every floor. Since most tenants have the same work schedules, we wanted to make sure they would not be struggling to find open laundry machines during their off hours.”