San Jose

Property Owner Wants to Build Affordable Housing for Teachers in San Jose

How do you attract good teachers to a place where the cost of living makes it virtually impossible to find a home?

That's the question many school administrators in the Bay Area are faced with each day. A South Bay property owner said she has a solution and wants to build cheap housing for teachers on her own land in San Jose. But the city is saying no.

"My model is that the teachers would pay $1,000 a month for rent and $1,000 would go into a savings account and within three years," said Sarah Chaffin, the property owner with the proposal. 'The teachers would have enough to put down 5 percent on their new house."

But there's a catch. Right now the property is not zoned for residential housing.

The San Jose City Council on Tuesday night are scheduled to amend the city's general plan to change the property designation from commercial to residential. The vote is expected to be a resounding "no."

"That would be detrimental to the city's revenue stream," Counwilwoman Dev Davis said.

Stephanie Palmeri Farias, a principal at Washington Elementary, said she is already losing valuable teachers because they can't afford to live in the area.

"It is a crisis. I truly believe it is," Farias said.

Parents and students spent the Tuesday afternoon making signs for a march from Washington Elementary to City Hall, hoping to get support for teacher housing.

"Every year, more and more teachers are leaving," Chaffin said.

Chaffin said her proposal would be a pilot project. She hopes it could serve as a model others could follow to solve the teacher-housing crisis.

The city, meanwhile, said affordable housing remains one of its top priorities.

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