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West Valley “teacher housing” effort progresses

SAN JOSE – Today, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors took an important step forward in an effort to build affordable housing for teachers and school staff in the West Valley. Following a recommendation from the County’s Office of Supportive Housing, the Board approved Eden Housing as the selected developer for the project, which will be located at 10333 N. Wolfe Road in Cupertino. 

“Now things are getting real. Our effort to bring teacher housing to the West Valley is making progress,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. “The selection of a nonprofit developer is a tangible step forward in addressing a crucial area of need.” 

Eden Housing, which was selected in part due its detailed approach to community engagement, will now guide the West Valley project through the next stages of planning, development, and community outreach. This will include working with the County’s Office of Supportive Housing to host community meetings to gather input from the public on the design and features of the project.

Eden Housing has been developing affordable homes across California for 55 years, including the Mitchell Park Place community in Palo Alto focused on individuals with intellectual and development disabilities that is set to break ground later this month. 

“Santa Clara County has consistently championed affordable housing, and we are delighted and honored to partner with them once again,” said Andrea Osgood, Eden Housing’s Chief of Real Estate Development. “As teachers face housing challenges and school districts struggle with vacancies and employee retention, we applaud Supervisor Simitian and Supervisor Lee for their visionary approach to addressing the critical housing needs of our educators. We look forward to contributing to this project and making a meaningful impact."

County Supervisors Joe Simitian and Otto Lee proposed the effort to bring educator workforce housing to the West Valley in 2022, building upon the work Simitian championed in Palo Alto to develop housing for teachers and school staff at 231 Grant Avenue. 

"As a champion for teacher housing, Joe knows we don't want to just provide roofs over heads; he wants to take care of the educators that shape the future of our communities by investing in educators that are the heart of a community,” said Katherine Tseng, school board member for Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School District and Governing Board President of Metropolitan Education District. “Supporting our teachers improves their well being."

Simitian said the need for this kind of housing became widely apparent back in 2018 and 2019 when he moderated a series of teacher town halls that included open mic/listening sessions about how the housing crisis had affected teachers. Co-hosted by Support Teacher Housing, the town halls included hundreds of teachers who shared their personal stories and the struggles they faced to make ends meet while trying to “be there for their students.” 

“No one wins when local teachers and school employees have to commute from miles and miles away,” said Simitian. “Time in the car is time that can’t be spent helping a struggling student; or preparing lesson plans; or attending any number of events that make up the fabric of our schools. By having teachers and school staff work and live nearby, we’re strengthening their role in the community.”

In 2018, Simitian proposed that the County pilot a teacher housing development on County-owned land at 231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto. The 110-unit development will offer housing to teachers and other staff employed by Mountain View Whisman School District, Los Altos School District, Palo Alto Unified School District, and Foothill-De Anza Community College District, which have contributed funds to the project; as well as school districts in South San Mateo County, thanks to a $25 million grant from Meta (formerly Facebook). Construction on this project is currently underway and is expected to be completed in mid-2025.

“As a former school board member, and the son of two public school teachers, I’ve seen how much it helps our schools, educators, and students when local teachers and school staff are able to live in the communities they serve,” said Simitian. “I’m pleased by the progress we’ve made in the northern part of our County, and I’m excited we now have an opportunity to bring folks together to make this happen in the West Valley.”

Following progress on 231 Grant Avenue, various stakeholders in the West Valley reached out to see if the County might be able to bring a teacher housing development to the area. In 2023, the County moved to acquire a large parcel of land at 10333 N. Wolfe Road in Cupertino to build a mixed income community that includes the educator workforce housing. 

“Now that we’ve identified a site and a developer, I’m hoping we can act quickly to engage school districts, local educators and school staff, city governments, neighborhood groups, community members and various other stakeholders to get this project done,” said Simitian. “I appreciate Eden’s commitment to a robust community engagement process and look forward to their partnership in this effort.”