San Francisco is so expensive, the city is spending $44 million so its teachers won't be homeless

brightworks maker school 4685
brightworks maker school 4685

(A teacher instructs a group of children at Brightworks, a primary school in San Francisco's Mission District.Melia Robinson/Tech Insider)

San Francisco teachers are some of the worst-paid educators in the state, despite living in what is by far the most expensive rental market in California, according to an investigation by the San Francisco Chronicle in 2016.

Now the city is ponying up $44 million for San Francisco's first teacher housing development, so public school teachers can afford to live in the city where they work.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee picked a site in the Outer Sunset and committed the money to bulldoze the existing property and build 130 to 150 rental units of teacher housing. The apartments — which will likely be priced below market rates — could be move-in ready by 2022, the Chronicle reported.

The announcement comes days after the Chronicle published a profile on Etoria Cheeks, a math teacher at a San Francisco public high school who is homeless. Despite having a master's degree and making about $65,000 a year, Cheeks lost her home in a foreclosure in December and has bounced between hostels, a homeless shelter, and a retired teacher's guest room since.

The average rent of a one-bedroom in San Francisco tops $3,300 a month. That figure has been steadily rising over the last six months, according to real-estate search engine Rent Jungle.

Teachers like Cheeks are struggling. Some teachers rent cramped spaces in other people's homes, drive for Uber, or commute from the far reaches of the East Bay, the Chronicle reports.

The mayor's proposal still requires the support of the city school district and the Board of Education to inch the project forward.

san francisco painted ladies housing
san francisco painted ladies housing

(The average rent of a one-bedroom in San Francisco tops $3,300 a month.Shutterstock)

San Francisco is not the first city to consider such a measure. School districts in cities including Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Asheville, North Carolina, have built teacher housing facilities to help educators stay put. These developments are often small and unable to accommodate everyone who wants a spot, however.

A public school district in Los Angeles created three below-market-rate apartment complexes for teachers — more than any other district in the state. But not a single tenent is a teacher. The teachers made too much money to qualify for the units under federal rules, so the lower-earning district employees, including cafeteria workers and school bus drivers, scooped them up.

A highly publicized mixed-use development in Newark, New Jersey, brings the schools to the teachers. The project contains three charter schools, 65,000 square feet of retail space, and more than 200 apartments, which the developer leases with preference for educators. More than half of the residential units at Newark's Teachers Village have been completed, and 70% of those are occupied by teachers and other educators, according to

The teacher housing solution in San Francisco is long overdue, according to Mayor Lee.

"I am disturbed as anyone to have a teacher who's homeless," Lee told the Chronicle.

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