2020 City Budget Grapples With Affordable Housing

2020 City Budget Grapples With Affordable Housing

SAN ANTONIO – More than $30 million is earmarked for more affordable housing in the planned 2020 City of San Antonio budget.

  • Money is part of a 10-year plan
  • Produce or rehab more than 18,000 affordable units
  • Part of Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force

The money is part of a greater, 10-year plan to produce or rehab more than 18,000 affordable units spurred by the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force. Having moved to San Antonio from Portland two years ago, Maureen Galindo understands rising rents. Galindo is a single mother of three.

“From 2014 to 2015 was the highest increase in housing Portland had ever seen. My rent went up $250,” said Galindo.

Looking for relief from Portland’s rainy weather as well the higher cost of living, she chose the Alamo City.

“And so I moved back to San Antonio. I had gone to college here 10 years earlier for the reason I could find affordable housing and sustain myself with my three kids,” said Galindo.

When she arrived, she had a tough time finding a place she could afford.

“It took me literally two weeks of literally calling 70 places, visiting places and nobody would take me. I was like, ‘Wow nobody will take me, it’s changed a lot,'” said Galindo.

City leaders are aware of Galindo’s dilemma and that of thousands more San Antonioans feeling the crunch of a booming city. The latest affordable housing plan released by city staffers hopes to address that struggle. The city’s affordable housing plan places municipal departments like the San Antonio Housing Authority together with other outside agencies to form a “coordinated housing system.”

Included is a vacant home rehab program, tax abatements for eligible homeowners, and offering developers 4 percent low-income housing tax credits, in exchange for lower rents. Galindo said the city is caught up in a Catch-22 with developers. Tax credits and other incentives she suggests leads to new development, lower-income residents can’t afford.

“Gentrification cannot happen without the city creating policies that incentivize developers to increase market value. So it’s not natural. It is totally planned and unavoidable,” said Galindo.

In the meantime, more development is coming. A recent U.S. Census report showed San Antonio with the largest population gain in the country between 2016 and 2017.