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Affordable Teacher Housing Gets Legislative Assistance

Governor Gavin Newsom on Sept. 28 signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 3308, by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D-Woodland Hills), which empowers school districts in California to utilize low-income housing tax credits to construct affordable housing for teachers and school employees on district-owned land. The legislation also clarifies that local governments can work collaboratively with school districts to build affordable housing for their employees as well as members of the general public.

California’s affordable housing crisis is particularly acute for teachers and school employees, many of whom cannot afford to live in the communities where they work. For example, in Los Angeles, an entry-level teacher would have to spend more than 85 percent of their income to afford an average median-level rental unit. As a result, many teachers in Los Angeles are forced to work second or third jobs, crowd together in small apartments, or endure lengthy super commutes from communities as far away as Riverside, San Bernardino, or Ventura.

“It’s shameful that so many teachers have to work second jobs or spend four hours a day commuting just to afford rent,” said Assemblymember Gabriel. “We must do more to address California’s affordable housing crisis, particularly for those who have committed themselves to educating our kids and protecting our communities. This legislation will empower school districts and local governments to work together and will ensure that all tools are on the table to create more affordable housing.”

AB 3308 clarifies California’s Teacher Housing Act to ensure that school districts retain important incentives and tools for building desperately needed affordable housing. Moreover, by empowering school districts to build on land they already own (rather than acquiring expensive new property), this legislation will enable school districts and local governments to deliver new affordable housing at a substantially lower cost. AB 3308 received bipartisan support in the Legislature and was supported by a statewide coalition which included the California Federation of Teachers, the California School Employees Association, and the Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego Unified School Districts.

“Educators are foundational to every community. It would be wonderful if they could afford to live in the communities where they teach. Unfortunately, in many areas around the state affordable housing is not available,” said Marcela Chagoya, Education Specialist and Chair of the California Federation of Teachers Special Education Services Committee. “AB 3308 provides an amazing opportunity for school districts to build affordable housing for educators so that they can strengthen relationships with their students, families, and school communities. It's a win-win situation for all.”

Jesse Gabriel serves in the Assembly Leadership as Assistant Majority Whip and currently serves on the Committees on Appropriations, Banking and Finance, Higher Education, Housing and Community Development, and Privacy and Consumer Protection.