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Oakland Unified To Convert Its Vacant Properties Into Affordable Housing

The school district has plenty of land and people want it to be converted into affordable and workforce housing. 

November 9, 2023

Due to the rise in the number of homeless students and families in Oakland, the school district officials are exploring whether the vacant properties can be turned into affordable housing and workforce for district employees. 

The longest-running project is in Santa Clara Unified School District which offers teachers discounted housing for around 7 years. Recently, Daly City, Palo Alto, and San Francisco also broke ground on completing housing projects to provide subsidized housing to educators. 

Two years ago, the OUSD board approved agreements to convert the vacant Tilden Child Development Center and Edward Shands Adult School properties into housing and multi-use developments. However, these projects have not started construction yet. Recently, a permit application was submitted for the Tilden property, outlining plans for one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, along with retail and parking spaces. The leases approved in 2021 by the school board specified that half of the residential units would be rented to OUSD workers.

The school district officials have a desire to develop a better process for identifying unused properties that can be developed into housing. 

The school board’s facilities committee composed of directors approved a resolution to put up a policy on repurposing vacant properties to build affordable housing for homeless youth and their families. 

School districts should start by discussing opinions with the community and other stakeholders for these kinds of projects. 

Town hall meetings will be organized by Davis and Brouhard to discuss how affordable housing can be built on OUSD properties. 

Brouhard said, “As one of the largest landowners in Alameda County, OUSD has land to develop housing, but we can’t do this alone. We need to collaborate with the state and county and the city to finance housing, and to manage housing complexes once they’re built”. 

Brooklyn Williams is spearheading a community-driven initiative to repurpose the former OUSD headquarters at 1025 Second Avenue near Lake Merritt. The building, unused for a decade due to flooding, will be transformed into short-term housing. It will also offer career and technical education programs, as well as mental health and academic support services, catering to older teenagers and young adults transitioning out of foster care or juvenile detention.

Another hurdle in doing so is financing these projects. The City of Oakland has given the funds including the OUSD funds. The survey was also conducted which revealed that cost of living and housing affordability were the major factors.

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McBride Ashley. “Oakland Unified is eyeing its vacant properties for affordable housing”. Oakland Side, November 3, 2023, 

Oakland Unified is eyeing its vacant properties for affordable housing (oaklandside.org)

Last Updated: September 20, 2021