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San Antonio City Council Approves New Policies on Affordable Housing

Joey Palacios
Texas Public Radio
Taskforce Chair Lourdes Castro-Ramirez - joined by other members of the taskfoce - address the San Antonio City Council before Thursday's vote

The San Antonio City Council has adopted new housing policies drafted by the Mayor’s Housing Policy Taskforce.

The housing policy framework approved by the council is the result of roughly a year of community meetings. The council approved the new policies Thursday in an 8-1 vote. District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry voted no, District 6 Councilman Greg Brockhouse did not vote, and District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez was not present at the meeting.

The framework is designed to be a roadmap for the city. It includes increasing the city’s investment in housing over 10 years, rehabbing older homes, and creating a coordinated housing system.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg says the goal is to create a healthy, affordable, and sustainable housing environment, “which means that you have an efficient governmental policy-making environment that works hand in hand with the private sector to produce the homes that are quality, and affordable, and sustainable.”

READ | San Antonio housing policy framework

One immediate effect is a proposed addition of $17 million and 13 new positions to the city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department, which is contingent on the city budget being approved on Thursday.

The mayor’s taskforce included Lourdes Castro-Ramirez, who is the former president and CEO of the San Antonio Housing Authority and former deputy assistant secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama. When presenting to council Thursday, Castro-Ramirez said the median price of a home has soared 40 percent in the past six years.

“Compounding this problem is the mismatch between housing supply and demand. We are simply not producing enough attainable housing to keep up with demand and this trend will likely continue of we do begin to act now,” she said.

San Antonio is expected to get one million more residents by 2040. Former San Antonio Mayor and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro also addressed council saying affordable housing and crucial to a thriving business climate.

“Companies, as they decide where they are going to locate, more and more, are weighing the affordability of housing and overall cost of living to their employees as an important factor in their decision,” Castro said. “So if we want to make sure that San Antonio can continue to be a place where small businesses can grow into larger businesses and where significant companies look at investing in employees then making sure we have ample affordable housing is crucial.”

The report presented to council states that one out of every three households in San Antonio  own a home, and one out of every two households that rent pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing, leading to them being cost burdened.

Perry, who voted against the plan, said, “I believe that many of the recommendations are the right thing to do and have great respect for all of the committee and community members who were involved in this project and spent countless hours on these recommendations. However, I have a philosophical issue with the recommendation to commit general funds to this effort. This issue truly has no end date and further strains an already limited general fund,” he said in a statement.

Perry said he the city has yet to see success or failure in its $20 million Neighborhood Improvements Bond Program approved by voters last year.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules

Joey Palacios can be reached atJoey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules