SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – A bill that would allow the San Francisco Unified School District to develop employee housing on district property passed the state Assembly Wednesday and is headed to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 1413, sponsored by state Sen. Mark Leno, authorizes school districts statewide to lease property owned by the school district for the development of employee housing.

San Francisco school officials and Mayor Ed Lee, a sponsor of Leno’s legislation, last fall announced plans to jointly develop educator housing for at least 100 households as well as provide rental assistance for at least 100 educators, 200 down payment assistance loans and $250,000 in housing counseling services per year over the next five years.

The district has identified two parcels as good candidates for possible employee housing development and is now working with the mayor’s office to develop financing plans, officials said Wednesday.

The city has $2 million in pre-development funds set aside for the 2016-2017 fiscal year and hopes to move forward with at least one project within the next two years.

“This is a major win for San Francisco’s teachers who have struggled, like many, in the current housing climate,” Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement Wednesday. “SB 1413 delivers on the promise that we are building housing for school district employees – teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators who are dedicated to our students, parents and schools.”

Leno’s legislation was needed because Fair Housing laws limited the extent to which housing could be designated for district employees only.  The bill will allow projects to qualify for federal low-income housing tax credits, giving developers an additional incentive to get involved.

School districts statewide are experiencing a shortage of teachers and other professionals. The number of teacher credentials issued in the state has declined 26 percent since the 2009-2010 academic year at the same time that statewide projections for new hires are on the rise, according to Leno’s office.

The problem is particularly acute in San Francisco and the Bay Area, where high housing prices can drive many teachers out of the area.  Fifty percent of teachers in San Francisco leave their positions within five years, and the lack of affordable housing is a major factor.

“We have a huge challenge trying to keep our teachers in San Francisco and there have been studies showing that there aren’t many rentals and places to buy that teachers can afford,” SFUSD Board President Matt Haney said. “I think our teachers have been waiting and want to see this happen as soon as possible.”

Haney said the district owns a number of properties around the city that are vacant or currently occupied by administrative buildings or other uses.

The Board of Supervisors earlier this year also approved sweeping eviction protections prohibiting most no-fault evictions against San Francisco school employees and families with children during the school year.

© Copyright 2016 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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