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Affordable housing for teachers (Monterey Herald)

A recent article in the Monterey Herald describes the role of Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay in a proposal to provide affordable housing for teachers in Monterey County.

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Superintendent P.K. Diffenbaugh talks about land around Seaside Middle School in Seaside, on Wednesday, February 5, that the district board is considering to use to build affordable teacher housing if it can get support to pass a bond measure on the November 2020 ballot. (James Herrera – Monterey Herald)

By JAMES HERRERA | | Monterey Herald

PUBLISHED: February 5, 2020 at 3:08pm UPDATED: February 5, 2020 at 3:10 pm

MONTEREY – The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District is seeking feedback from the community it serves on the potential issuance of a housing bond on the November ballot that would fund the creation of housing for teachers.

“MPUSD is continuing to explore the possibility of building teacher and employee housing in district-owned property,” Wendy Root Askew, MPUSD Board of Education member Area 1, said in an email.

The board recently received a presentation from MidPen Housing about options to proceed with housing on property adjacent to Seaside Middle School or Marina Del Mar School.

“We are currently in the early stage of this process and are seeking input from teachers and staff as well as the community,” said PK Diffenbaugh, MPUSD superintendent.

MidPen Housing is a non-profit developer, owner and manager of quality affordable housing in the United States.

The MidPen Housing presentation along with other information can be found at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District’s website.

MPUSD has the authority to place a bond on the ballot but would need 55% voter approval.

Other districts have proposed the same tactic including Soledad Unified School District which already has its measure on the ballot for a teacher/staff housing bond.

“Teacher recruitment and retention has been a focus of the board since my arrival here – it is one of four board goals,” said Diffenbaugh.

MPUSD hires between 80-100 teachers a year which represents 20% of the teaching force and it knows that in order to sustain and build upon the progress of the last five-plus years it needs to support the teachers so that they can afford to live on the Monterey Peninsula, said Diffenbaugh.

“Housing has been identified as a major barrier to teachers staying in the district long term and therefore the district is focused on finding solutions,” said the Superintendent.

Diffenbaugh explained the current proposal is for the bond to support housing for teachers.

“Teachers are in a challenging situation because they make too much to qualify for federally-funded affordable housing units but make too little to be able to rent on the Peninsula without spending well over 30% of their monthly income on rent – considered the standard for affordability,” said Diffenbaugh.

The district has 26 properties including current sites and parcels on what was once Fort Ord. It also has 50 acres off Highway 68. It identified five sites for consideration to explore further. Of those five, MidPen identified two as having the most potential.

“The big questions being asked of the Board of Education are, do we proceed with a $30 million or $60 million housing bond in November 2020 to fund 52 or 98 housing units respectively. Do we want to build rental only or rental and Habitat for Humanity homeownership, and are there thoughts about using the Seaside Middle School property or the Marina Del Mar property,” said Askew in an email.

Seaside Middle School is located on the northwest corner of Coe Avenue and General Jim Moore Boulevard in Seaside. Marina Del Mar Elementary School on Lake Drive in Marina closed as an elementary school in June, 2009 and is now a preschool.

The district issued a request for quote for potential developers and two firms responded: MidPen Housing with Habitat for Humanity as a partner, and Ausonio Inc. Both firms were approved by the board.

Diffenbaugh pointed out that MidPen has an excellent reputation in affordable housing and know the area having successfully built the Van Buren senior housing in Monterey.

MidPen Housing was founded about 45 years ago and has developed over 100 communities and 8,500 homes for low-income families, seniors, and special needs individuals throughout Northern California. Its developments are award-winning and nationally recognized.

MidPen Housing has developments in Monterey County including Castroville’s Cynara Court with 58 units, and Geil Street Apartments with 11, at East Garrison’s Manzanita Place with 66 units, Moon Gate Plaza in Salinas with 90 units, and Van Buren Senior Housing in Monterey with 19 units.

Habitat for Humanity has been a part of the Monterey Bay area for about 30 years. The Monterey and Santa Cruz county nonprofits merged in 2016 to form Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay and has built 54 homes with more planned. The nonprofit recently named a new CEO.

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