PALO ALTO (CBS SF) – Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors president Joe Simitian announced Wednesday afternoon that the board voted to set aside millions in funding for affordable teacher housing in Palo Alto.

Simitian pitched the project in order to bring in workforce housing closer to the communities where local educators teach, according to a statement from his office.

Simitian proposed building teacher housing on county-owned land at 231 Grant Ave. in Palo Alto, a 1.5-acre site across from the Santa Clara County Courthouse. To provide parking, he suggested replacing parking on that lot with a parking structure on the courthouse lot.

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“It’s better for everyone—folks trying to avoid traffic, kids getting an education, school districts trying to hire and retain the very best teachers for our schools, and of course for our teachers themselves,” Simitian said in the statement. “It’s never easy to develop workforce housing in such an expensive area.”

Simitian went on to say that it is possible to develop this housing because of the available land, available funding and partners who want to help out.

The $6 million in funding set aside for the project comes from the county’s Stanford Affordable Housing Fund, designed for the creation of affordable housing near the Stanford University campus.

The Grant Avenue site could host a large number of units, ranging from 60 to 120. The community services that are currently on the site could be relocated, Simitian recommended, or remain on the site on the ground floor below the housing units.

So far, superintendents from the Mountain View Whisman School District, Mountain View Los Altos School District, Los Alto School District, Palo Alto Unified School District and the chancellor of Foothill De-Anza Community College District have shown preliminary interest in the proposal, according to Simitian’s office.

The project should also help schools retain more employees, which has become a huge problem in the region with teachers who do not qualify for traditional affordable housing yet cannot afford market-rate housing prices.

The effort hits home with the board president, who grew up in Palo Alto as a teacher’s son.

“I can recall the days when a teacher could own their own home here in Palo Alto, or in a nearby community,” Simitian said in a statement.  “I know we can’t turn back the clock, but I’m convinced that there are solutions to this problem.”

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