ENCINITAS, Calif. — As housing becomes less affordable and harder to find, an independent school in Encinitas is looking to solve the problem for some of its staff.
Using a $4.5 million grant from the Fred B. Luddy Family Foundation initially intended to build a sports facility, The Grauer School realized that the land could serve a much bigger need: providing affordable housing for its teachers. The donor agreed.
“He said, ‘The greatest donors are the ones that are giving to individuals with the vision,’” said Stuart Grauer, found and head of school at The Grauer School. “You could almost cry, I did actually.”
After nearly losing out on new hires because of difficulty securing affordable housing in the area, he decided the solution was in the land, just a half a block away from the school.
According to Grauer, staff will be able to apply for one of three separate living spaces on the property, with room to build more if the program proves to be successful.
Rent costs will be set a rates relative to their salary, which he says will be intentionally kept at a low percentage to allow them the ability to save and establish themselves in San Diego.
“A lot of people that we know are paying 50, 60, or 70% of their salary just to get housing,” said Grauer. That’s what he hopes to avoid with this pilot program.
It’s a concept that almost sounds too good to be true for new teachers like Ryan Stevens.
“It’s going to be such a weight off of people shoulders, because it’s very expensive living here,” said Stevens, who was hired as a stem instructor at The Grauer School last year. “Many teachers have to live several towns over and then make a long commute into work every day.”
Stevens moved to the area after graduating from UC Santa Barbara and experienced the difficulty securing a place to live that inspired Grauer’s idea.
“I really felt increasingly over the years that we need to reclaim this amazing profession of teaching as the noblest profession,” said Grauer.
By investing in them, Grauer says the goal is to keep attracting the best teachers. And his vision is close to becoming a reality.
“It’s also just to show of faith in the teachers,” Stevens said, “like, ‘Hey, we really want you to work here. We really trust you, we think you’re going to bring something to the school, and so we want you to live here too and just be able to connect with a school and students.’”
The Grauer School has a staff of about 30 and the units are expected to be ready by next spring.