8 thoughts on “CityFest: Panelists Talk Affordable Housing Solutions in SA and Beyond

  1. This is a difficult issue to wrestle with.
    Question number 1 is a basic policy question. Should the city be involved in housing? For those in favor of bigger government, they would likely say yes. For those favoring smaller government, they would probably say no.
    The next question would be on the approach. Should the city be “re-active” to the economic drivers of the city, in terms of providing public resources, or
    Should the city attempt somehow to “manage” economic growth?
    When you look at the big picture view of this plan, it calls for investing nearly $1 billion dollars for 18,600 housing units, or about $45,000 per household over the next 10 years. In a city of 2 million people, that means you are affecting exactly .0093 or 0.9% of the total population. Seems like an incredibly significant investment for such a small percentage of total population.
    I’m completely in favor of eliminating delays and unnecessary regulations that drive up costs on builders, but it would seem that the basic economic theory would apply, if government gets out of the way, then the laws of supply and demand will be able to achieve a happy medium.
    The other issue the article doesn’t talk about is the cost of “loans” and “risk.” The last thing that a poor person needs is another loan payment. They need to save their cash and pay cash for everything. Getting themselves into a car payment takes away their wealth building ability. Plus, if you buy a home with other debts, no savings, and finance 30% of your take-home pay, and then you get laid off or fired, now you have a financial crisis in addition to a job crisis. Buying a home the right way is a wonderful thing. But buying before you are ready is also a terrible thing.
    I don’t like the idea of using government restrictions on property taxes or giving them passes on SAWS impact fees, because that is just another mechanism for cost-shifting to other taxpayers. If we are all living in San Antonio, we all bear some responsibility for paying for our public services. I’d like to see a few more case studies of other cities that have taken different approaches to this and see how it has turned out before making any final decision.

    • Well said “Tim” your input on this dialogue makes sense . The panel with its experience should be able to provide San Antonio with what has worked in other city’s . The dialogue continues , the challenges of some do affect “our” community. Question is Tim how can “we” help others or should they be left to help themselves ?

    • Other cities often give density bonuses for building affordable housing (not public housing). But, to be effective, the density bonus has to be large enough, usually at least a 20-30% bonus. SA has a density bonus but it isn’t large enough to be effective and there are other requirements and zoning issues that make it too restrictive. I don’t think SA would have the political will to change this, they still cater to SF zoning.

  2. Housing “advocates and experts?” By whose standards?
    We have a big and ever growing problem with the lack of affordable housing.
    When the City appoints these panelists it intentionally picks people that are neither low income or empathetic towards low income citizens.
    As a resident advocate who lives in public housing I resent these phony panels and their meaningless conclusions.

    • Pancho, insulting community leaders who you do not know as “phony” accomplishes nothing. While you might not agree with their ideas or approaches, why attack them? Public housing and affordable housing are two different categories of housing, by the way. Why don’t you submit a commentary to the Rivard Report setting forth your udeas for addressing the city’s affordable housing crisis? Editor will then consider it for publication. –RR

  3. Here is what Mechele Dickerson, a professor at the University of Texas–Austin School of Law who studies housing, had to say. In recent years, she has argued that low-income minority families would be better off forgoing home ownership in favor of renting in neighborhoods with better schools.
    “No, you don’t need to own a home,” Dickerson says. “What you need to do is go and find the best school district around you and figure out how can you live for 18 years in that school district. And, at the end of the 18 years, if you want to buy, then fine, then you buy.”


    • I agree, why are we always pushing low income households to own their home. Home ownership is an expensive endeavor. The homeowner is responsible for anything that needs fixing, what if the roof gets a hole in it, the foundation crumbles, the siding gets termites?…these are repairs that could be tens of thousands of dollars in costs. This could lead to the homeowner having to declare bankruptcy or living in a home that is not suitable to be lived in.
      There are better ways to build wealth than home ownership.

  4. I have to disagree about the inclusiveness statement. I attended a Housing Task Force meeting held at the main library and all I witnessed was the Task Force mainly speaking to one another while the audience sat and listened. The Task Force conversation was opaque and exclusive to only those with a degree in Urban Planning, which most in the audience, I am willing to bet did not have. The entire hour and one half was mostly listening and I’d say about fifteen minutes were allowed of audience participation. And the participation were only in the comment form. I never witnessed the panel asking the audience for ideas etc. and writing them down. Witnessing the lack of participation and seeing how the fifty plus audience just went along, made me embarrassed for my city! No wonder people from other cities see SA as lame. Instead of feeling inspired on the issue of gentrification, affordability etc. I left that meeting feeling hopeless. It’s no wonder people in our city don’t get involved or even vote, heck that evening they had more smarts then I did! I’m reminded of a phrase used commonly while in the military. And no disrespect meant to the panel, but I left feeling like it WAS a perfect example “dog and pony show”. Rant over!

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