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San Diego Councilwoman Puts Stricter Control Over Housing Commission On Back Burner

The exterior of the San Diego Housing Commission, June 27, 2018.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Above: The exterior of the San Diego Housing Commission, June 27, 2018.

San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez had planned to ask her colleagues on the council to take more authority over the San Diego Housing Commission, but now those plans are at least temporarily on hold.

It began with a report by KPBS about a federal housing program. The program asked cities to give more valuable housing vouchers to people who wanted to move into pricier neighborhoods, with the idea that would help desegregate them. The KPBS investigation showed that the San Diego Housing Commission chose not to get with the program.

In March, Gomez told KPBS she would ask the Smart Growth and Land Use committee to vote on taking of greater control the commission the following month in order to achieve the goal of desegregation.

But now, she said she's focused instead on working with the housing commission.

RELATED: San Diego Councilwoman Wants More Authority Over Housing Commission

"I need to make a decision in terms of when to prioritize things," she said. She said since decisions aren't currently being made to set voucher amounts, she needs to focus elsewhere.

"It's important, but I need to protect people that are getting discriminated right now," she said.

"The fact that the council gave authority to the housing commission was a mistake," she said at the time.

The councilwoman says now that she would still like more of a say in how the housing commission gives out vouchers, but not control over other things the commission does. For example, approving housing projects, because she does not want to create additional roadblocks.

Gomez said she's currently focused on working with the housing commission to build more affordable housing, including possibly updating the calculation that dictates how much affordable housing a developer has to build. She's also focused on protecting tenants with a proposal to prevent landlords from discriminating against voucher holders.

RELATED: San Diego Won’t Join Federal Voucher Program Aimed At Desegregating Neighborhoods

She said she does not know when she would bring a proposal to have more authority to the City Council.

"I don't have the timeline in terms of what's going to come back and when," she said. "But it's something we'll be coming back to the Smart Growth and Land Use committee to update the resolution that council did when they gave its authority to the housing commission. So that will be getting updated."

Scott Marshall, a spokesman for the housing commission, said in an email to KPBS that the commission plans to set new voucher amounts this fall that will go into effect January 1, 2019.

San Diego City Councilwoman Georgette Gomez had planned to ask her colleagues on the council to take more authority over the San Diego Housing Commission, but now those plans are at least temporarily on hold.

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