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New law would allow SFUSD to build teacher housing

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Designing said housing involves a lot of that math you thought you would never use in real life

When we talk about the plight of everyday people bending over backwards to make ends meet in San Francisco, public school teachers are the go-to example (to their likely chagrin).

Teachers in San Francisco Unified School District start at as little as $52,600/year (not including the value of benefits). That’s about $4,383/month, in a city where a one-bedroom apartment averages between $3,500-$4,000 (depending on who you ask). As for buying, back in 2014, not a single home in the city was an affordable purchase on a teacher’s salary, and things haven’t gotten any rosier since then.

Thanks to hardworking California public teachers, our command of basic math is sufficient to tell you that those figures are downright chilling.

The city has long considered a pinpoint solution to this longstanding problem: build housing specifically for teachers, to the tune of at least $80 million.

That effort will likely receive an extra helping hand from Sacramento today, as San Francisco’s state senate rep Mark Leno’s bill SB1413 lands on the governor’s desk. Under the new law, California school districts would be allowed to develop teacher housing on district-owned property.

(As it stands now the district is allowed to build employee housing, but there are rancorous limits, and the 100 new units on order wouldn’t make the cut.)

It’s a small thing, but crucial in a land-scarce place like San Francisco, where the question of where you build can create almost as many obstacles as what you build. (See: the Lucas Museum. Or don’t, as the case is.)

Mayor Ed Lee made a statement talking up the Leno bill, which passed the assembly 62-18 in a vote on Wednesday, after clearing the senate 29-7 in May. Of course, even with this helping hand, the city’s teacher housing project won’t solve the ages-old problem of affordability for educators.

But every bit helps. And as you’ll remember from your own habits of texting in class, the teachers could use every break that comes along.