“Progressives & The Governor Race, Public Housing…”

by on September 27, 2006


As an environmentalist, I can assure you that Schwarzenegger has been a disaster on that issue. He’s vetoed good environmental legislation and placed pro-industry people in agencies where they do major harm to the environment.

Unlike Gray Davis, whose policies were indistinguishable from those of Schwarzenegger, Phil Angelides actually has some progressive credentials and there’s a hope that he would be significantly better. Progressives are fools to not fully support Angelides.

As to unions, they’re not generally progressive anymore. Instead, they support jobs and higher wages for their members at all costs, including harming the environment or making it harder for those with less income. They’re generally not as bad as Republicans, but are certainly not progressive.

Jeff Hoffman, San Francisco

Dear Editor,

In response to your call for public support of the Mayor’s Public Housing Bond initiative, I am most certainly in agreement with the concept. It is truly remarkable to see the Mayor adopt such a priority as public housing when it is so commonly dismissed by local government as a federal problem. This sets the stage for an absolutely neccessary shift in thinking that has been too slow in coming: we can no longer rely on the federal government, we must develop local solutions to housing our poorest citizens.

There are still many important unanswered questions I have about the proposal that stop me from jumping to wholeheartedly back the effort however. Will the $1 million be used soley to redevelop the dilapitated projects in the bayview or will it fund market-rate development as well? If so, we need to think carefully about using taxpayer money to fund private development of market-rate housing. If the capital improvement need for the SFHA currently is $245 million, than how will this bond be enough to achieve all that needs addressing? If the bond money will finance the development of properties, where will the ongoing operating subsidies come from? HUD continues to slash the operating funds yet, units where tenants pay average rents of $200/monthly require deep subsidies. If the plan is that residents will be given Section 8 vouchers during temporary relocation, then what happens if federal section 8 funds dry up? Even with one-for-one replacement of units, there is no guarantee that all former tenants will be able to access the new units. The strict admissions criteria implemented by the John Stewart Company at North Beach and Valencia Gardens, for instance, have kept many residents from returning due to poor credit or negative criminal history.

The devil is, of course, in the details. This is why the community needs to be brought into the discussion as soon as possible so that we have a better understanding of what’s proposed and whether it truly will benefit low-income residents. The bottom line is that if affordable housing advocates and residents do not have an involvement in directing how the bond money is spent and how the housing is developed, constructed and managed and for whom, then it will quite be difficult to throw our support behind it.

Sara Shortt,
Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco

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