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Resident spearheads affordable housing initiative for teachers

Referring+to+a+design+of+the+proposed+affordable+housing+units+on+3265+El+Camino+Real%2C+developer+Jason+Matlof+details+his+efforts+to+Palo+Alto+High+School+Journalism+Incubator+students+during+class+on+Aug.+29+at+the+Media+Arts+Center.+According+to+Matlof%2C+his+housing+proposal+will+bring+improvements+to+the+Palo+Alto+community.+%E2%80%9CCommunity+benefits+mean+a+lot+of+different+things%2C%E2%80%9D+Matlof+said.+%E2%80%9CBut+basically%2C+the+developer+can+do+some+good+for+the+community+by+bringing+in+affordable+housing.%E2%80%9D+%28Photo%3A+Celina+Lee%29
Referring to a design of the proposed affordable housing units on 3265 El Camino Real, developer Jason Matlof details his efforts to Palo Alto High School Journalism Incubator students during class on Aug. 29 at the Media Arts Center. According to Matlof, his housing proposal will bring improvements to the Palo Alto community. “Community benefits mean a lot of different things,” Matlof said. “But basically, the developer can do some good for the community by bringing in affordable housing.” (Photo: Celina Lee)

A former Palo Alto High School parent is leading the effort to redevelop the land along El Camino Real to increase access to entry-level housing for Palo Alto Unified School District teachers and classified employees.

Jason Matlof, the developer, is working with support from the Palo Alto Education Association and the California School Employees Association, to create 44 housing units, including one bedroom and studio apartments, for employees in the district at 3265 El Camino Real.

“We started a partnership with the Palo Alto Educators Association, which is the teachers’ union, since I felt that their need for local housing was super important,” Matlof said. “Eighty seven percent of their members don’t live in Palo Alto, and we later learned that the same situation exists amongst non-teacher employees — members of the California School Employees Association, which includes everyone from janitors to nurses to counselors. We are partnered with both of these unions, whose members will get prioritized access to vacancies in this new building.”

Matlof, who worked in the technology industry for 25 years, decided to leave the industry six years ago to develop property in the area, but encountered many roadblocks, including meeting certain city requirements.

“I’ve developed a few buildings in San Francisco, and then meanwhile, since I live here, I have been working to figure out how we can make this work [property development in Palo Alto] because, recognize that, our kids’ teachers largely don’t live here.”

Matlof said the project still needs to be presented to the city council on Sept. 11 and estimates it will take between twelve to eighteen months to get adequate funding and approval, and a minimum of two years to construct. 

According to the State of California, Governor Gavin Newsom mandated a quota for Palo Alto to have 6,086 new housing units by 2031 through the California Housing Accelerator, which aims to create new housing units for low- and middle-income Californians.

Matlof aims to help Palo Alto meet this quota and said the project will be financed by entirely private funding from his development company and equity investors. 

“We’re also going to get loans from commercial lenders,” Matlof said. “We’re not relying on any public funds.”

Trachtenberg Architects’ rendition of the side-view of the building on El Camino Real. (Photo: Jason Matlof)

If the initiative is approved, Matlof said the affordable housing will improve jobs and strengthen Palo Alto schools by increasing young teacher retention and recruitment.

“I hope that this sets a precedent for others — for both the government and for other developers to collaborate in building affordable housing,” Matlof said

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About the Contributors
Celina Lee, Editor-in-Chief
Anna Feng, Senior Staff Writer
Anna Feng (Class of 2024) joined The Voice her sophomore year. Outside of journalism, she enjoys volunteering, listening to podcasts and spending time outdoors.

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