COVID-19-related budget crises are reducing essential funding for California school districts while Marin County teachers already face unsustainable rental rates
LARKSPUR, Calif., May 5, 2020 — Today, in conjunction with National Teacher Day, Catalyst Housing Group (“Catalyst”) announced the formation of the Essential Housing Fund, a nonprofit organization that will focus its initial efforts on reducing rental housing costs for Marin County teachers.
Founded in 2015, Catalyst’s core business includes the acquisition, development and management of rent-restricted apartment communities targeting middle-income households. Catalyst recently partnered with the California Community Housing Agency (“CalCHA”), a state agency it helped establish in 2019, to acquire Serenity at Larkspur (“Serenity”), a 342-unit luxury rental community adjacent to the Marin Country Mart and Larkspur Ferry Terminal in Larkspur, California.
Seeded with a donation of $100,000 from Catalyst, the Essential Housing Fund will immediately begin accepting applications from qualified teacher households interested in securing discounted rents at Serenity. Rates will be set such that approved applicants are not contributing more than 35% of their household income towards rental payments. Catalyst is additionally waiving traditionally required security deposits, as well as contributing $1,000 towards each teacher household’s moving costs.
“Starting teacher salaries in Marin average $50,000,” says Catalyst founder Jordan Moss. “When combined with average countywide rental rates of $2,800, our teachers are faced with allocating more than two-thirds of their pre-tax earnings towards housing costs, simply to live within the very communities that depend upon them. This is an untenable situation that leads to excruciating commutes, congestion, pollution, social dislocation and an overall reduced quality of life for the essential workforce we’re entrusting and relying upon to educate our children.”
“The Larkspur-Corte Madera School District is dedicated to attracting and retaining high caliber educators; however, we lose out on a pool of new teachers every year due to a lack of affordable housing, and that is only going to get worse as we grapple with significant state budget cuts in the wake of COVID-19,” said Dr. Brett Geithman, LCMSD Superintendent. “While we’ve been able to meet our goals of staffing high-quality teachers, I’m nervous about the upcoming generation. This partnership with Catalyst will be instrumental in our recruitment efforts and allow teachers to live within the community they serve.”
Catalyst intends to rapidly expand the geographical focus of the Essential Housing Fund to Sonoma and Solano counties, where it has partnered with CalCHA to acquire additional rental communities. Catalyst additionally aims to break ground on the construction of new rent-restricted communities in 2020, furthering its mission to alleviate California’s growing middle-income housing crisis.
“With entry level rents and home prices well out of reach, middle income households in the Bay Area are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet,” said Ben Metcalf, former director of California’s Department of Housing and Community Development and Founder and Principal of Stronger Foundations LLC. “This was the case before the current crisis and will be even harder on the other side. The Essential Housing Fund help fills this gap for Marin County, fostering economic diversity and ensuring that our communities can still function and prosper for the long term. Catalyst’s approach to missing middle housing is offering new approaches that are desperately needed and I commend them up for once again stepping up.”
Marin County teacher households interested in the program should directly contact Serenity at Larkspur at (415) 429-0728
About Catalyst Housing Group
Larkspur, California-based Catalyst Housing Group focuses on building happier, healthier communities. Fueled by innovation, and laser focused on the intersection of housing, technology and philanthropy, Catalyst has sparked transformative middle-income housing models that empower our essential workforce to live, work and thrive within the communities that depend upon them.
Over the past 12 months, Catalyst has partnered with the California Community Housing Agency to acquire in excess of $500 million of premier multifamily rental communities across Northern California. These formerly market-rate properties – Serenity at Larkspur (Larkspur, CA), Verdant at Green Valley (Fairfield, CA) and Annadel Apartments (Santa Rosa, CA) – have all since been converted to rent-restricted communities serving middle-income households earning no more than 120% of the area median income.