- The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) will spend the next six months looking for opportunities to increase the supply of affordable housing for both employees and families, the district announced this week.
- Creating more stable living arrangements for families experiencing homelessness and working with developers to build “below-market workforce housing on district-owned land” are among the priorities named in the resolution approved by the LAUSD Board of Education.
- “Los Angeles Unified is looking carefully at all of the real estate it controls to make sure it is being used to support student learning and the communities we serve,” Superintendent Austin Beutner said in a press release. Norwood Learning Village — a 29-unit apartment complex built on a parking lot of a school in downtown Los Angeles that gives preference to LAUSD employees — was named as an example of the types of projects the district will pursue.
The board’s action comes roughly two weeks after members in November approved a resolution authorizing Beutner to study the possibility of housing homeless families on school property. Strategies might include allowing families living out of cars to park overnight in secure lots and providing overnight shelter and meals — similar to what the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is doing with its pilot "Stay Over Program" in a school gym. Another model would be using bond funds to convert or build permanent homes in partnership with organizations such as FlyAwayHomes, which is building housing out of shipping containers in South Los Angeles.
The district currently estimates that it has 16,200 students who fit the definition of homeless. Some schools with higher concentrations of homeless students — such as Telfair Elementary in the San Fernando Valley — would be the first place the district would try some of these models. Some residents in the communities near school sites that might be used to provide shelter, however, have expressed opposition to the idea.
At the same time, the lack of affordable housing impacts employees who work for the district. “When many of our employees are not able to afford homes in the city where they work and we are barely able to afford the 6% raises we are offering, it’s clear that our employees deserve more,” Nick Melvoin, vice president of the board, said in this week’s press release.
SFUSD and some rural districts in Colorado are among those either building housing for teachers or considering other incentives to help teachers live closer to work. But such models have had mixed results, often because teachers still earn too much to qualify for affordable housing. Other research has also shown that housing is not the most significant factor in recruiting and retaining teachers.