Town Square

Post a New Topic

Palo Alto school board approves 29-units of subsidized staff housing

Original post made on Jan 18, 2023

Years in the making, Palo Alto Unified's school board formally approved plans to participate in a subsidized teacher and staff housing project on Tuesday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 18, 2023, 9:53 AM

Comments (15)

Posted by Julie Lythcott-Haims
a resident of Green Acres
on Jan 18, 2023 at 10:26 am

Julie Lythcott-Haims is a registered user.

Kudos to the PAUSD School Board. Every bit helps!

Posted by Bystander
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2023 at 11:06 am

Bystander is a registered user.

Two points.

What happens if a teacher living there decides to change jobs, does that teacher then have to move?

There is no mention of how much parking is attached to these units. Are the teachers expected to ride bikes or use public transport to get to their schools? And as for partners, are they expected to do the same?

Posted by MyFeelz
a resident of another community
on Jan 18, 2023 at 6:25 pm

MyFeelz is a registered user.

I think Bystander has a good question. My sister has been squatting on a voucher for decades. Under SSI rules (which she qualifies for) gainful employment would take away her money AND housing. So she just hasn't worked in forever because it's so complicated to give up income and housing because she CAN work a minimum wage job.

Could these PA units also be squatted on after the teacher is no longer a teacher? If they are HUD vouchers, the answer is yet. HUD rules that if you have income that would disqualify you, or if you were evicted "for cause", you would have to move.

So I have to think these are LIHTC apartments, and NOT subsidized by HUD. If they are LIHTC the developer is getting hefty tax credits for building and Mercy will manage them. Under LIHTC there are "units" and "low income units". LIHTC is an arm of HUD, but HUD assigns its authority to the Tax Credit agency in each state. I do not believe any city or county bond can be used to buy 29 lottery tickets. I believe it's the developer who has to earmark the 29 units for PAUSD. The developer is ALREADY GETTING PAID. The only reponsibility for PAUSD would be to certify the eligibility of the "lottery winners". I believe they woulld have to be regular "LIHTC UNITS" because the teachers are not under the low income category. PAUSD would have to flex some pretty big muscles to arm wrestle the California Tax agency to change its rules. I believe all PAUSD is doing is bypassing the wait list for 29 units, example shown in the link Web Link It's just a motion carried out by the developer that can't be bought. It sounds like an illegal shell game. POOF there goes 1.5 million. Who collected it and under what authority? HUD would be asking that question. Explore the entire CTCAC website. Nowhere does it mention pre-purchasing lottery tickets. I will be the first to call CTCAC myself to report this activity.

Posted by felix
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 19, 2023 at 6:35 am

felix is a registered user.

As I remember, Palo Alto has more apartments than other Districts because the City is the only one one that helped fund the project with a few million from its affordable housing fund.
This is a wise decision by the District.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2023 at 8:33 am

Jennifer is a registered user.

These units might be nice for young, single teachers straight out of college. All the teachers I know own their own home. And PAUSD teachers make good money, up to over $140K, and even more with certain degrees. If the whole idea is live where you work, most people don't live and work in the same city. Would this be any different than renting any other apt. in Palo Alto? Homes are expensive to own or rent, but apartments are a different ballgame.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 19, 2023 at 10:10 am

Online Name is a registered user.

@Julie Lythcott-Haims, maybe you could explain how the city tracks employment and income status for the various classes of affordable and subsidized housing?

What happens to people when they leave their teaching jobs? Are they evicted?

What happens to people in market-rate housing when their income changes drastically like it often does in Silicon Valley due to layoffs and IPOs?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by More info
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 19, 2023 at 10:29 am

More info is a registered user.

I teach at one of the high schools and am surprised at Jennifer's comment that all the teachers she knows own their own home - how do you know? It's ridiculous to assume that because someone is making 140k (which most of us are NOT - you have to teach in PAUSD 25 years and get 90 units of college credit (after your degrees) to make it to 139k. A new teacher to PAUSD, straight out of student teaching (unpaid full-time work for one semester or a full year) will be making 71k. That is not a living wage to live in Palo Alto, let alone most of the Bay Area.

Posted by eileen
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 19, 2023 at 11:29 am

eileen is a registered user.

I was under the impression that these units are available for ANY teacher working in Santa Clara County. That is a much wider range than PAUSD. It is helpful for teachers in general but I also wonder what happens when they stop teaching in the county. Can someone answer this question?

Posted by S. Underwood
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 19, 2023 at 11:34 am

S. Underwood is a registered user.

PAUSD teachers salaries are pretty inline with median Palo Alto income. When you factor in work hours, benefits, pension they are doing quite okay.

I don't begrudge that one ounce. But there's not a problem to solve here. One proof is quite simple: We have no problem filling positions. [Don't tell me about how you can point to certain low-wage functions (carefully boxed out by the union) and then says, "Hey, See We Can't Hire No Wun for $20 an hour!" Churchill in particular needs a serious haircut, either in positions, salaries, or both.

We have people in need of real help. For all their talk about social justice, our power structures just keep helping themselves.

Posted by Jennifer
a resident of another community
on Jan 19, 2023 at 4:38 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

I know they own their own home because they happen to be family/friends of mine, not random strangers. If $71K isn't a living wage to live in Palo Alto or most of the Bay Area, find a less expensive place to live. Where your wages will compensate the cost of living in your city or state. It really is that simple.

Posted by toransu
a resident of Barron Park
on Jan 19, 2023 at 11:19 pm

toransu is a registered user.

Jennifer, you know we still need teachers in our community, right? "Just go live in Modesto and commute 4 hours a day" isn't a real answer, and you know that. I guarantee if we only employed your mythical 140k-salaried teachers, you'd be complaining that we pay teachers too much lmao

Posted by Julian
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jan 24, 2023 at 5:29 pm

Julian is a registered user.

Eileen, PAUSD has reserved 29 units for themselves. Other districts have the option of reserving one of the 100+ units. I'm writing a story for the Palo Alto High School newspaper, The Campanile, on the subject.

Posted by Palo Alto Res
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 7, 2023 at 5:36 am

Palo Alto Res is a registered user.

Wasn't so long ago PAUSD was facing an issue with their budgets during the pandemic and cut various teaching positions, including letting go of various IL (instructional leads) at the high school level. Removing instructional leads leads to an overall poor programming. Even when there is an IL, they do not answer.

For instance, Paly principal doesn't respond to parent emails. Is it because he does not prioritize responding to parent emails or is he understaffed?
We've emailed the IL and they too also don't respond to parent emails. The Principal sets the tone for the teachers so it's not wonder you get a Paly principal not responding to parent emails, then ILs don't respond either to parent emails. No response whatsoever.

So if staff at Paly and PAUSD schools are so stretched thin, they don't bother to respond or do not care to respond to parent emails... why is PAUSD spending 1.5 MM on housing?

What happens when the PAUSD teacher jumps ship and stops teaching, retires, or moves to another district or different job position that is administrative and doesn't teach?

Instead of hiring more teachers and aides and support staff, PAUSD has their priorities misaligned. Parents cart students in cars to field trips. Melissa Baten Caswell, who was a staunch advocate for students, wanted to bring back school buses back into the PAUSD budget, she got voted down by the Todd Collins, Dauber, Shounak, and Jennifer DiBrienza. Parents remember how things went down.

MIddle school athletics is farmed out to the city ever so conveniently.

But hey, lets spend 1.5 MM on teacher housing. That's the real issue at PAUSD. It's not the principal ignoring parent emails. It's not ILs ignoring parent emails. It's not school buses not being paid for by PAUSD budgets. Let's spend $$$ on subsidizing teacher housing. $1.5 MM worth.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Mar 8, 2023 at 8:50 am

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

Mountain View has a huge apartment list. No lack of apartments in that city. And that city is north of San Antonio up to Los Altos street off El Camino. All of that new building is not PA inventory.

In Baltimore the private schools have included housing on their property for teachers. But the teachers do not want to live there and leave after one year. They have no privacy and are subject to school participation 24/7. Best that the teacher housing is not on school property.

Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 9, 2023 at 8:38 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

"For a studio apartment, a single person would need to earn at least $70,800, according to a report from district staff. A family of four could earn a maximum income of $235,900."

I am puzzled. Should this read "at most" $70,800 instead of "at least" $70,800? If not, a district employee making less than $70,000 as a district employee need not apply for an apartment under this program.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed.

Get the day's top headlines from Palo Alto Online sent to your inbox in the Express newsletter.

Burning just one "old style" light bulb can cost $150 or more per year
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,998 views

Banning the public from PA City Hall
By Diana Diamond | 26 comments | 2,156 views

Pacifica’s first brewery closes its doors
By The Peninsula Foodist | 0 comments | 1,883 views

Premiere! “I Do I Don’t: How to build a better marriage” – Here, a page/weekday
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,424 views

Holiday Fun in San Francisco- Take the Walking Tour for An Evening of Sparkle!
By Laura Stec | 7 comments | 1,416 views


Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund

For the last 30 years, the Palo Alto Weekly Holiday Fund has given away almost $10 million to local nonprofits serving children and families. 100% of the funds go directly to local programs. It’s a great way to ensure your charitable donations are working at home.