Affordable housing solutions in the Bay Area may seem out of reach to many, but several options implemented in the past year, including a new program for staff launching this week, make it somewhat easier to find an affordable place to live.
Elizabeth Zacharias, Vice President for Human Resources and chair of the Affordability Task Force, said that challenges around housing affordability surfaced in input gathered from staff. She shared her viewpoint, “Not being able to afford to live where you want to live can lead to tough decisions about your children’s schools, or a lengthy commute, or financial challenges, or years of saving for a down payment to purchase a home. Affordable housing options can support these and other aspects of everyday life.”
Faculty Staff Housing manages the university’s rental communities and offers homes, apartments and condominiums on the peninsula at reduced rates for Stanford employees. In 2020, rent increases at all communities were suspended to support pandemic-related impacts, and rents in two communities were reduced.
New or recently opened rental communities offer additional options, including the Cardinal Apartments in Redwood City, within walking distance to downtown and the CalTrain station, and are close to the Stanford Redwood City campus. Staff and postdoctoral scholars have priority for this rental community, though all employees are eligible to apply for a unit. A new rental community currently under construction in Menlo Park will also provide hundreds of units for community members. Additional rentals within the peninsula are available.
A new program to help benefits-eligible staff purchase a home has launched, one of the recommendations of the Affordability long-range vision initiative. A personal finance company, Landed, helps employees in education, government and health care organizations with a unique shared-investment down payment program as well as providing comprehensive home buying services and resources. The down payment program is one piece of a holistic suite of home buying support being offered by Landed, which includes in-depth home buyer education, access to a vetted real estate network, and reviews of property reports to help homebuyers make informed decisions. Within the SF Bay Area, the down payment program is available in almost all counties; view a list of geographic areas. The program is a joint effort from Faculty Staff Housing; Land, Buildings & Real Estate; and University HR.
A series of online information sessions will be held in the first three weeks of April; sessions are open to staff and their family members and are approximately one hour to allow time for questions. Benefits-eligible staff interested in purchasing a home or learning more about the home buying process are encouraged to attend. A general program overview is on the Faculty Staff Housing website and includes links to sign up for an information session; you can also sign up to get more information at any time.
Faculty Staff Housing has a new tool members of the community can use to determine all of the programs they are eligible to use; by answering a brief number of basic questions about who you are, a list of programs is displayed.
Staff with questions about housing programs are advised to complete the housing eligibility tool as a first step. A request form to ask questions or request help is on the Faculty Staff Housing website.