But now, thanks to a twist in a city land deal that’s been years in the making, the district may have a new lure to offer potential hires: teachers-only affordable housing.
OUSD is weighing a bid to build below-market rental housing units for city teachers on a plot of land near Lake Merritt. Earlier this summer, the acre appeared to be headed destined to turn into high-end housing. But critics scuttled the deal before it could receive final city council approval, and Oakland announced it would accept new proposals for developing the land.
Converting the plot to teacher-specific housing at an affordable price could solve multiple problems at once for the district. Rents are rising faster in Oakland than almost anywhere else in the country — including neighboring San Francisco, though separating the two cities’ readings downplays the connection between San Francisco’s infamously tight real estate market and Oakland’s role as first-choice spillover city for many people who work across the bay. The 12.1 percent increase in rental costs from 2014 to 2015 is second only to Denver’s 14.2 percent hike, according to Trulia.
As rents boomed, teacher salaries didn’t keep pace. The contract approved by teachers earlier this summer includes gradual 14 percent raises, but Oakland Educational Association (OEA) members are hardly thriving. First, that 14 percent hike over three years will mostly be playing catchup to the 12 percent rent increase that’s already happened.
When the Oakland school year began Monday, the city’s public school system was still scores of teachers short of the number it needs. The Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) has thrown job fairs and deployed administrative employees with teaching credentials to the classroom to cover the shortfall.