UPDATE: San Jose school district to ask voters to fund teacher housing
Teachers and staff in the Alum Rock Union School District may have subsidized housing in the future. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

A plan to provide housing for teachers is moving forward in East San Jose.

The Alum Rock Union School District voted 4-1 Thursday in favor of changing the language of an existing bond to use some of its remaining funds to build affordable housing for teachers and staff. Trustee Linda Chavez voted no.

Measure J, a $125 million bond measure passed in 2012, is currently being used to refurbish campuses, update computer systems and remove asbestos and mold. 

Now some of the remaining funds from the measure could be used for constructing below-market rate housing for teachers and staff, pending voter approval. 

Trustee Minh Pham said this is a historic time for the school district. He said the modified bond would help teachers live in the community they serve and allows for a more sustainable future for the district. 

“Hopefully by doing so, we ensure the fiscal sustainability of Alum Rock going forward in times of changing economic conditions and varying enrollment,” he said.

The district will ask voters in November to support revising the language in Measure J. It will require 55% voter approval to pass. 

Dale Scott, president of Dale Scott & Co. and a financial advisor to the district, said of the $125 million in bonds, about $71.5 million remain.

It’s unclear how much money will be set aside for the teacher housing. The district hasn’t done a feasibility study or determined the number of homes it would build—or what the rents would be.

Superintendent Hilaria Bauer said the school district is committed to recruiting and retaining teachers and workers, but many are priced out of the Bay Area housing market. She said the goal is to help subsidize housing.

Trustee Andres Quintero said the process of using taxpayer dollars for teacher housing has been transparent, ensuring public resources aren’t being wasted.

“We went out there and interviewed our own staff through a survey and came back with overwhelming support,” he said. “We went ahead and asked the voters if they were interested in seeing this move forward.”

The median cost of a single-family home in San Jose is up by 23.7% compared to last year, according to the California Association of Realtors. In Santa Clara County, the median home price is about $1.97 million as of June. Mortgages are also skyrocketing, with some realtors saying $9,000 monthly payments are reasonable.

As home buying in the Bay Area has become prohibitive, educators pay expensive rents or live hours away. Los Gatos, Palo Alto and Santa Clara have invested in teacher housing in response, and Alum Rock Union School District hopes to do the same.

Bauer said redirecting the remaining funds of the bond measure won’t hamper plans to repair classrooms and ensure they have heating, ventilation and air conditioning. She envisions the teacher housing complex being a five-year plan with groundbreaking in two years followed by construction.

“I know we’re far away from having the shovel in the ground,” said trustee Corina Herrera-Loera.  “However, I know this is almost as important…I’m hoping the rest of the community, our voters, agree with this need for our district.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected]

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