Team selected to design affordable housing for educators amid California’s escalating cost-of-living crisis  

Rendering of building exterior by EHDD Architecture 

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In response to the escalating cost of living in California, particularly in Santa Cruz —one of the nation’s most unaffordable housing markets—a collaborative design-build team of Bogard Construction, EHDD, and Studio VARA has been chosen to design affordable housing units specifically for educators. This project will address the growing challenge of retaining talented educators within school districts where living costs are soaring.   

“Educator housing is a game-changer, both for the families who will live in these homes, as well as communities like Santa Cruz whose essential services are now threatened by the glacial pace of housing development over the past decades,” said Brad Jacobson, EHDD principal in charge for this project.   

“It’s no secret that Santa Cruz has an affordability issue, as well as a housing crisis, which makes retention of our teachers and education staff extremely challenging. Santa Cruz City Schools is making a tremendous step by building housing for our valued educators. Being local to Santa Cruz, the pressing need for this project is very clear to our team, and we are honored at the trust that the SCCS District has placed in Bogard to successfully deliver,” said Jared Bogaard, president of Bogard Construction. 

The proposed development is a multi-story, multi-family complex consisting of 100 units, offering a diverse mix of studios, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments. The design will reflect and take advantage of the coastal Santa Cruz environment to create a vibrant, resilient community where educators and their community can thrive.  

Conceptual Site Plan by EHDD Architecture 

“Educator and workforce housing are the new frontier, filling the ‘missing middle’ between subsidized affordable housing and market-rate developments, and Studio VARA is honored to have this opportunity to bring our deep experience in multifamily housing to the team,” said Christopher Roach, principal at Studio VARA.  

This project is backed by the 2023 approval of Measures K and L by Santa Cruz City voters, securing $371 million for Santa Cruz City Schools. This funding is allocated for school updates, repairs, and the construction of affordable rental housing for school staff. The project’s vision extends beyond immediate housing solutions, aiming to support educators in eventually purchasing their homes through bond-sponsored grants, thus fostering long-term educator retention.  

Santa Cruz’s project joins a growing list of similar initiatives in California after the state passed a series of bills making it easier for school districts to provide affordable housing specifically for district employees and their families. Los Angeles Unified and Santa Clara Unified school districts were the first to complete such projects in the state. Recent projects include a 122-unit complex in Daly City’s Jefferson Union High School District and a 135-unit complex by the San Francisco Unified School District. A collaborative effort in Palo Alto involving several school districts and non-profits is underway to construct a 110-unit complex.   

As these pioneering projects unfold, valuable insights and best practices will emerge, guiding other districts keen on adopting similar strategies. The Santa Cruz project is not only a housing solution, but a blueprint for sustainable educator support and community building in California’s challenging economic landscape.   

About EHDD   

EHDD is an award-winning architecture firm with a strong commitment to advancing climate action through sustainable design. With decades of experience helping clients achieve their dreams, EHDD creates transformative places of belonging and impact.  

About Bogard   

Bogard Construction is a family-owned and operated construction firm, based in Santa Cruz, specializing in many project types and delivery methods throughout California. With over 77 years of experience, spanning four generations of family members, Bogard is an active advocate for the success of each of our projects. 

About Studio VARA 

Studio VARA is an interdisciplinary design studio driven by a passion for excellence in design, service, and execution across a wide range of project sizes and typologies that align with our mission to build a better world for our clients, our community, and our planet. We are a minority woman-owned firm based in San Francisco’s Mission District with roots deep in the Bay Area design and construction industry, and a deep commitment to empowering designers as agents of positive change in our built environment and society.