Affordable Housing: A Call to Action – January 6, 2016

I hope that all of you had a wonderful Holiday. Mine was great! It started with Beechwood’s amazing, uplifting Holiday Show and continued on through Christmas and New Years. It was rejuvenating to take an extended break, to be with family and friends to celebrate all of life’s blessings.

Now, however, it is time to roll up our sleeves and get back to our important work. One of the most pressing issues affecting the Beechwood Community is that of affordable housing. One of my goals for 2016, is to do whatever I can to help bring awareness to this growing problem. I urge you to get involved as well.

Most of you are well aware of what is happening with regard to rising home prices and rents. As the prices go higher and higher it is becoming very hard for many Beechwood families to stay in the area. We have lost a number of families already because they can no longer afford to live here. The grim reality is that we can be sure that more families will leave, unless the issue is addressed and solutions are found.

In addition to the issues faced by our families, the lack of affordable housing is affecting our staff as well. Teachers who are renting are having their rents raised to a point where they have to consider leaving the area as well. Our outstanding staff is an essential part of what makes Beechwood great. The thought of losing talented teachers due to a lack of affordable housing is of great concern to me as well.

So what can we do?

For my part, I have started by drafting an open letter to local government leaders, making them aware of what is happening and asking them to engage in dialogue with our community members about affordable housing for teachers. This letter will be co-signed by a group of local Principals who are equally concerned about losing teachers.

I also will be attending the next Menlo Park City council meeting, which will be held at the Senior Center on January 12th at 6pm. If you are interested in raising awareness about housing prices and urging our leaders to address the issue, I hope you will attend as well. In the past, a show of strength from Beechwood families has made a difference with regard to local issues.

I started this message by mentioning “life’s blessings.” For me, one of the greatest blessings of my life has been working in this richly diverse community. Beechwood parents come from all walks of life. You are nannies, gardeners, high tech workers, nurses, office managers and teachers. Regardless of how you make your living, you deserve to have a place to live that is affordable and reasonably close to where you work and where your children go to school. Let’s do whatever we can to make our voices heard in an effort to preserve our diverse community.

-Mr. Laurance