San Diego To Distribute $50 Million To Affordable Housing Projects
Tuesday, September 4, 2018
Photo by Kris Arciaga
The San Diego Housing Commission on Tuesday announced it would award $50 million in competitive grants to affordable housing projects in the city over the next few years.
Tuesday's announcement was made in a press conference with Mayor Kevin Faulconer in front of a forthcoming downtown apartment building that will house individuals recovering from homelessness. The funding availability is fairly routine and was not unexpected.
Housing Commission President and CEO Rick Gentry acknowledged the amount was far short of San Diego's affordable housing needs.
"We think that we could probably double or triple this easily without saturating the marketplace if you will," he said. "But this is what we have to deal with right now and what we're making fully available."
The shortage of funding for low-income housing in San Diego and across California is well known among policymakers. Earlier this year the nonprofit San Diego Housing Federation had proposed a $900 million bond measure for the November ballot that would have gone to affordable housing projects. The measure faced several delays and competition for attention from another proposal to fund homeless programs and an expansion of the Convention Center.
The Convention Center measure ultimately failed to make it on the 2018 ballot, but that news came after the Housing Federation agreed to withdraw its measure to focus on the 2020 ballot. The group's executive director, Stephen Russell, said while $50 million was not a small amount of money, it was out of scale to the problem.
"We were proposing we'd need three times that for six years in a row to begin to make significant inroads into homelessness and affordable housing," he said. "We don't dismiss anything — this $50 million will be put to great use. … But in terms of order of magnitude, we need to do much more."
Of the $50 million announced, $20 million would be reserved for permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Another $20 million would go to construction of new affordable apartments for low-income renters, and $10 million would go toward the rehabilitation and preservation of currently affordable homes that may otherwise be at risk of converting to market rate rents.
Russell said based on past awards of funding, the $20 million earmarked for permanent supportive housing would help fund roughly 200 new homes for formerly homeless individuals. The grants are to be awarded over the next two years.
The Downtown San Diego Partnership, which represents downtown businesses, conducts monthly counts of homelessness from the East Village to the Marina. Its August 2018 count found 964 people sleeping on the streets downtown.
The $50 million is earmarked for affordable housing and permanent homes for formerly homeless individuals. Observers say it is far short of what is needed to make serious progress toward housing San Diego's unsheltered population.
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