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SDUSD plans to use Measure U bond money to build affordable housing for teachers

SDUSD wants to spend $200 million to build teacher homes
Posted at 5:37 PM, Oct 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-20 22:33:21-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - One small line in the San Diego Unified School District's $3.2 billion bond could have a huge impact on teachers trying to afford to live and work in the area.

Part of Measure U, which is on the ballot for the upcoming November election, will help pay for affordable housing for teachers and other district employees.

"We're hoping to build at least 500 units of affordable housing," says SDUSD Board Trustee Richard Barrera.

A new state law allows school districts to build affordable housing on any property they own, without having to ask for zoning changes.

Barerra says they think it will be a game-changer for the district.

"We'll be able to do something that really makes it possible to attract and retain quality educators," he says. "I think it's something that voters will support."

Measure U earmarks about $200 million for housing. The district has already identified three locations where they plan to build.

The first would be a major complex on Normal Avenue on land near the SDUSD district offices. Another housing project would replace Central Elementary when that school merges with Wilson Middle School. The district would put another set of homes at the Ballard Parent Center in Old Town.

Barrera believes the homes could help the district dig out of a teacher shortage.

"We know that the cost of living in San Diego makes it very difficult to attract especially young people into the education profession," he says.

Teacher salaries at SDUSD begin around $50,000 per year and grow to more than $100,000 per year as teachers' careers progress. Barerra says rent at the district-owned units would be capped at no more than 30% of their monthly income. So a teacher who makes $50,000 would pay around $1,250 per month.

That's significantly lower than the average rent in San Diego, which can range from $2,300 - $3,700 per month depending on the size of the apartment.

ABC 10News asked why the District can't just raise salaries to the point where all teachers could afford market-rate rent. Barrera explained that you can't use bond money on salaries. He says it would take an immense increase in state funding to get wages high enough to afford market-rate rent in San Diego.

But he thinks this idea can help new teachers as they start their careers.

"This provides a little opportunity to have a secure, stable, affordable place to live as you start to move up the salary scale."

Barrera also hopes more projects like this mean more teachers can live closer to their school. That would cut commute times and let them truly become part of the communities they teach.

The new units would be part of the City and County's plan to build 10,000 new affordable homes by 2030.

Measure U needs 50% + 1 of the vote to pass. If it does the district thinks the first set of homes could be ready within three to five years.