Santa Clara County grants $21M loan for teacher housing project in Palo Alto

Apartments to be offered to teachers who don’t qualify for low-income housing

Rendering of 231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto and Doug Shoemaker, president, Mercy Housing California (iStock, Mercy Housing, 2312 Grant)
Rendering of 231 Grant Avenue in Palo Alto and Doug Shoemaker, president, Mercy Housing California (iStock, Mercy Housing, 2312 Grant)

Santa Clara teachers grappling with high rents are getting a lifeline.

County supervisors agreed to lend $21 million to help fund a project being developed by Mercy Housing and Abode Communities, whose cost has jumped to $87 million from $62 million thanks to rising construction prices during the pandemic, SiliconValley.com reported.

“We were all hoping that 18 months ago, costs would flatten or decline, but with supply chain and commodities, we’re seeing 8 to 12 percent inflation in the construction world,” said Doug Shoemaker, president of Mercy Housing. “Whatever way you slice it, it’s not specific to this project.”

It isn’t just the price of raw materials such as lumber and steel, Consuela Hernandez, who oversees the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing, told the outlet. Labor costs are also rising due to Covid restrictions that require more workers, she said.

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Another reason: The developer boosted the number of apartments to 110 from 93. Each one will cost about $792,332 to build.

The loan marks the second time the county has offered funds to a developer due to cost increases. The other one was in early 2021, when the county loaned $3 million to a project in San Jose.

Apartments on the 1.5-acre site will be reserved for area teachers who don’t qualify for low-income housing yet also can’t afford high local rents. Supervisors said they supported the project because of a high turnover for teachers thanks to extended commutes.

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