Will Teach For Housing

Plans inch closer to converting a 1.25-acre lot in the Outer Sunset to homes for SFUSD professionals.

The old admin building on 43rd may be replaced with houses for SFUSD teachers and staff.

As housing costs increase in San Francisco, people who earn less than $100,000 per year find it harder and harder to find and remain in homes. In particular, middle-class earners have a rough time: Unable to afford market-rate housing, they often don’t qualify for below-market-rate units, either. In recent years, construction workers, nurses, waiters, and teachers have all fled the city in droves, finding the struggle to be too much in a city that increasingly caters to the wealthy.

This exodus affects a number of industries, including public education. As of 2017, the San Francisco Unified School District has 55,613 students enrolled in its 136 schools, and employs a staff of more than 9,900. Of these, 3,608 are kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers, who earn between $59,020 to $78,055 each year.

For many, this income is not enough to afford market-rate housing. In a 2016 survey, nearly 58 percent of SFUSD teachers reported that it is “somewhat” or “very” difficult to afford housing costs each month. Perhaps due to this, the district has a 10-percent attrition rate each year.

But one big, multimillion-dollar solution is in the works, in a neighborhood not known for welcoming large-scale housing developments. In May, Mayor Ed Lee committed $44 million toward constructing a teacher housing project at the Outer Sunset’s Francis Scott Key Annex, a ramshackle, L-shaped building that sits on an acre of parking lot. Deemed unsafe for students owing to its outdated seismic safety standards, it’s currently used as an SFUSD administrative facility and for the storage of records. Recently, its massive parking lot was repurposed as a community space called Playland at 43rd, with play structures, a community garden, a free library, and interactive art projects.

But if the Mayor’s Office of Housing has its way, the site could one day include up to 135 units of affordable housing, designated for teachers and employees of SFUSD. The money — which came from 2015’s Proposition A Housing Bond and the Housing Trust fund — would cover planning and construction costs. After reviewing five potential locations, the Annex was chosen in part because each unit was projected to run only $326,471.

On paper, the plan seems like a good one: There is a shortage of affordable housing in San Francisco for teachers, and this would be a solution. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the same is true for any project that wends its way through City Hall, the Board of Education, and the Planning Department. The housing is still in very early stages; community outreach is in progress as the city seeks an experienced development team. If everything goes smoothly — but honestly, when does it ever? —  teachers will have new housing by mid-2022.

For the extra-curious, or those with an opinion on the matter, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, as well as SFUSD staff, will hold an open hour about the project on Sunday, Sept. 24, from 11 a.m. to noon, at Playland on 43rd Avenue.

Check out more stories in our feature on the Outer Sunset here:

It’s Always Sunny in the Sunset
Fog schmog, one of San Francisco’s loveliest neighborhoods is just blocks from the ocean.

Who Opens an Independent Bookstore in 2017?
Black Bird Books has what it takes to make it work. But who knew the Outer Sunset had this many boutiques?

Infinite Appetite, Finite Budget: Eating in the Outer Sunset
Between Sunset Boulevard and the ocean, there are plenty of brunch spots, fish tacos, and third-wave coffee shops.

Unpaving Paradise
More than 113,000 gallons of the neighborhood’s stormwater are diverted through city sewers annually, thanks to the Sunset District’s Front Yard Ambassadors.

A Rejection of ‘Pure Shlock’
A colorful candy dish of castle-like houses hides along several blocks in the Outer Sunset.

Surrender to the Sand
The southern end of Ocean Beach may get a facelift.

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