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Report: San Diego Housing Pinch Linked To Redevelopment Loss

A home in the El Cerrito neighborhood of San Diego has solar panels on its ro...

Photo by Richard Klein

Above: A home in the El Cerrito neighborhood of San Diego has solar panels on its roof, Jan. 25, 2016.

The loss of redevelopment funding was a major cause of San Diego's housing and homelessness crisis. That's the conclusion of a new report released by the San Diego Housing Federation.

The state used to allow the creation of redevelopment districts where cities such as San Diego could capture extra property tax funding, called tax increment financing.

Housing Federation Executive Director Steve Russell said under the tax increment financing, San Diego had about $120 million a year for affordable housing. Now, it's less than one-third of that amount.

"When redevelopment was in force, it was a pretty significant financial stream, and 20 percent of that revenue had to go, by law, into the production of affordable housing," Russell said. "With the drying up of that revenue stream we've seen a drastic reduction in the level of affordable housing and we've seen an increase in the amount of homelessness."

Graph showing funding for affordable housing in San Diego in report released by San Diego Housing Federation.

Redevelopment programs, and the local agencies that ran them, were eliminated following state action in 2011, when California was facing an ongoing budget deficit. The move to end redevelopment was led by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Russell said that decision has had a direct impact on housing opportunities in San Diego. The report, based on numbers from the California Housing Partnership, finds that San Diego County needs 143,800 more affordable rental homes to meet current demand.

Russell said the good news is the state appears ready to create a housing bond with billions of dollars available. But for local areas, there's a catch.

"In all cases, what's really important to know, is that if we are successful at the state level of passing this bond measure, San Diego will need local revenues for a match," he said.

Russell wants the San Diego City Council to put a local housing bond on the ballot this year as well. A proposal will come before the city council's rules committee in June.

A study says the loss of state-approved redevelopment funding was a major cause of San Diego's housing and homelessness crisis.

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