Sonoma COE jumping into the workforce housing game
The future site for employee units shares parcel with community school

The Sonoma County Office of Education on Nov. 30, completed the purchase of a residential property in Santa Rosa, adjacent to the county office’s Amarosa Academy campus.

The COE will be asking the City of Santa Rosa to rezone the land — purchased for $630,000 — to allow for construction of a high-density housing development targeted toward educators and other public employees.

Current plans, which are subject to revision, call for the building of at least 60 rental units. The housing, known as Casitas de Amarosa, will be on the same parcel as Amarosa Academy, a community school providing an alternative learning environment for students in grades 7–12 who are experiencing difficulties in a traditional school setting.

Sonoma COE Superintendent Amie R. Carter, who took on the position just this year, is prioritizing making Sonoma County a more welcoming home for prospective educators — and building affordable housing for school staff is a key step toward that goal.

“Building housing that school staff can afford is essential to our mission of serving students,” Carter said. “This housing will help us realize our goal of strengthening and diversifying our educational workforce. We are excited to cooperate with the City of Santa Rosa, Amarosa’s neighbors and state officials as we seek to get our campus rezoned and start construction.”

little origami houses lined up on a table
The purchase of the Juniper Avenue parcel and the initial development plans were initiated by current former county Superintendent Steven D. Herrington, who is retired following his third four-year term in December 2022.

“Casitas de Amarosa was one of my main project goals during my last term,” Herrington said. “COVID delayed the project from moving forward, but I am so proud to have it back on track. As the project moves forward, we will be in discussions with the California Housing Finance Authority and other state and local partners, mindful that Casitas de Amarosa may serve as a model for other government agencies seeking to make their communities more affordable for public employees.”