As local school districts grapple with how to help teachers struggling to afford to live in the communities in which they teach, housing advocates, educators and others will sit down for a discussion on solving the issue.
Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian will moderate the panel "Mid-Peninsula Teacher Town Hall: Can We Solve the Teacher Housing Crisis?" on Feb. 13 at Sequoia High School in Redwood City.
Sarah Chaffin, a parent and founder of SupportTeacherHousing.org, a group working to encourage local school districts to build teacher housing, organized the event. This will be the fifth town hall meeting Chaffin has hosted.
"It's really important (to have these town halls) because we've got to have the teachers share their personal stories about how difficult it is to find housing in the Bay Area," Chaffin said.
Local government agencies are considering measures to help teachers secure affordable housing. Simitian is spearheading a partnership with local school districts and cities to build a 60- to 120-unit affordable housing complex for local teachers and staff. The teacher housing would be built on a county-owned, 1.5-acre site at 231 Grant Ave. in Palo Alto. The Sequoia Union High School District has not ruled out the possibility of building teacher housing.
Chaffin first became involved in the issue when she heard her daughter's preschool teacher was commuting from Hollister to Los Gatos, a 50-mile trek. The school's principal told Chaffin it is difficult to recruit staff because it's so expensive to live in the Bay Area. The conversation with the principal brought the issue to the forefront of her mind, Chaffin said.
Panelists at the Feb. 13 town hall include Chaffin; Edith Salvatore, president of the Sequoia District Teachers Association; Armando Sanchez, executive director of HEART (Housing Endowment and Regional Trust of San Mateo County), a local housing assistance program; and Maya Perkins, a regional housing and transportation expert.
Speakers will explore the following topics:
• What does teaching with limited housing options look like?
• How do limited housing options impact our districts, teaching staff and community?
• What, if anything, can we do to improve the situation?
Event organizers encourage teachers, administrators, parents, students and concerned community members to attend and share their stories of how the housing crisis has impacted them.
The event is from 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Sequoia High School,
1201 Brewster Ave. in Redwood City. It is free, but RSVP is required here.