The Mayor’s Housing Bond Work Group has reached agreement on a $297 million housing bond for the November ballot. As predicted in these pages, what began with a mayoral pledge to support a $150 million supportive housing bond is now a measure with less for the homeless and $90 million to assist households earning above $100,000 annually. This shift in the bond’s targeting, and the exclusion of tenant, builder and neighborhood groups from the process, could spell trouble for its chances in November
For over a decade, the development of bond proposals has involved key stakeholders from across the city. Mayor Newsom followed this process when he convened a 60-member Housing Work Group, but then disbanded the group in favor of a 16 member body. This body included no tenant or neighborhood representatives. But at least half of its members were among the 30% of the city’s electorate who supported Prop J in March.
Although the 16 members were supposed to solicit input from key constituencies, no group advocating for tenants or neighborhoods was brought into the process. The resulting bond thus suffers from the same “due process” problems that plagued Prop J.
With details still unclear, it is premature to speak on the merits of the bond. Those who have opinions are encouraged to submit their viewpoints to Beyond Chron so that a full exchange of ideas can be had.
But two disturbing issues are already evident.
First, the stand alone $150 million supportive housing bond to reduce homelessness in San Francisco is dead. The new proposal cuts the amount to $100 million, and ties its fate to voter support for subsidizing housing for those earning well over $100,000 per year.
Second, the bond’s creation through a back-room deal not open to the public will hurt chances of passage. The lack of process gives those who oppose funding affordable housing a more politically correct basis for opposition.
Is it fair to accuse the Chamber of Commerce and Prop J backers of hijacking a politically popular supportive housing bond for their own ends? Stay tuned to Beyond Chron for more details in the days ahead.