AB 2295 presents opportunity for Governor to address two major issues: teacher shortages and affordable housing
The CSBA co-sponsored bill would facilitate the development of affordable housing for public school staff
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2022) – Gov. Gavin Newsom can make progress against two of the state’s most pressing problems — affordable housing and the teacher shortage — if he signs Assembly Bill 2295 (Bloom, D-Santa Monica) into law this week. At a time when Californians of diverse backgrounds are struggling to find homes where they live and work, AB 2295 would facilitate the development of housing and provide an extra incentive for teachers and school support staff to join and remain in the profession.
“Teacher quality has the greatest impact on student achievement of any on-campus factor, and support staff are essential to the proper functioning of schools. So, it’s essential that we pursue measures to attract and retain a high-quality education workforce,” said California School Boards Association President Dr. Susan Heredia. “AB 2295 facilitates this goal by making it easier for faculty and classified staff to live close to the schools and in the communities they serve.”
California’s housing crisis threatens the quality of K-12 education, contributing to high rates of teacher turnover and acute staffing shortages that undermine student outcomes. These costs are disproportionately borne by students in low-income schools and exacerbate opportunity and achievement gaps. School districts are eager to address these issues by converting unused or underutilized property to affordable housing for school staff but are slowed or stymied by current regulations. Under existing law, development of surplus school property into education workforce housing can often take seven years to complete. By removing administrative barriers, while still allowing for a robust community engagement process, AB 2295 would shorten that timeline in most cases, making it easier for local educational agencies to build housing on their property.
“Teachers and staff are leaving because skyrocketing cost of living and stagnant salaries make it almost impossible to afford living in the communities where they teach,” said the bill’s author, Assemblymember Richard Bloom. “We are hemorrhaging talented teachers, which ultimately negatively impacts the quality of a public education for our kids. We can do better. AB 2295 gives school districts an essential tool in addressing staffing challenges by utilizing properties they already own. This bill will help facilitate education workforce housing with a guarantee that the housing stays affordable to all school district staff for decades. I’m proud of the work my office, the sponsors and supporters have put into getting this bill to the Governor’s desk. This housing production innovation will help recruit and retain teachers and is well deserving of the Governor’s signature.”
According to Education Workforce Housing in California: Developing the 21st-Century Campus — a report in which CSBA collaborated with cityLAB at the University of California, Los Angeles; the Center for Cities + Schools at UC Berkeley and the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley; and the Chan Zuckerberg Foundation — California school districts own 75,000 acres of developable land of one acre or more. Sixty-one percent of these properties are located where entry-level teachers and many classified employees face severe housing affordability challenges.
AB 2295 is a product of this research and proposes modest and reasonable policy changes that will help streamline schools’ ability to turn vacant or unused properties into educational workforce housing. Specifically, the bill:
- Permits housing on school property and makes development of housing subject to objective standards, but not subjective development standards, imposed by the city or county. This ensures that local building requirements apply and that the design blends with that of the surrounding community.
- Requires any use of existing vacant or unused LEA property for educational workforce housing be first offered to LEA employees and that a majority of the units be affordable to low- and middle-income households, with 30 percent reserved for low-income households.
- Exempts the property from being subject to the Field Act, the Sale of Surplus Government Property and Sale or Rent of School Property requirements.
“Working closely with Assemblyman Bloom was key to moving this important legislation through all the committees and amendments,” said cityLAB-UCLA Director Dana Cuff. “The two years of research from cityLAB-UCLA and our Berkeley partners helped us convince more than enough legislators to support building thousands of units of housing on school land for our teachers and staff, who will ensure quality education for California’s K-12 students.”
Four such residential developments have been built in California to date — all of them with substantial waiting lists — and nearly 50 more school districts and county offices of education are pursuing projects. Momentum is growing as eight districts have put workforce housing measures before local voters since 2018 and a recent project in Daly City’s Jefferson Union High School District garnered national media attention and praise from district employees.
"AB 2295 should give California school districts more flexibility in considering if building affordable housing for educators can work in their community,” said Jeff Vincent, director for Public Infrastructure Initiatives at UC Berkeley’s Center for Cities + Schools. “Our research finds growing interest across the state and AB 2295 is a step in the right direction."
CSBA is a nonprofit association representing nearly 1,000 PreK-12 school districts
and county offices of education throughout California.