Wednesday night three San Antonio candidates for mayor debated ways to make housing more affordable.
The cost to rent and own homes in San Antonio has risen in the past few years. The mayor’s race will be on the same ballot as a bond election that would devote money for affordable housing.
The Alamo Community Group sponsored the discussion between Mayor Ivy Taylor, District 8 Councilman Ron Nirenberg, and Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Manuel Medina. They were asked to talk about their ideas for providing more affordable housing.
One question: Should the city amend its charter to allow residents to vote on affordable housing projects?
Mayor Taylor answered this way. “We have a lot of vacant underutilized housing that I think if we get all the right partners – the financial partners, the nonprofits, the realtors, and community advocates – together that we could better utilize those properties and create stronger neighborhoods throughout San Antonio.”
The 2017 bond proposal asks voters to include $20 million for affordable housing. It would allow the city to buy properties in blighted neighborhoods, improve them, and sell them for development. Manuel Medina says the city needs to go beyond that.
“What I’ve seen is a lot of the city incentives are not going to non-profits. They’re going to for profit groups that are trying address the affordable housing issue. So, I not only support the bond but I also believe that 80 percent of it should go to non-profits that are addressing our affordable housing shortage.”
Councilman Nirenberg says the city housing policy needs to have a comprehensive and compassionate housing policy that respects long-time neighborhood residents.
“To make sure that as we develop as a community we’re not displacing residents and that gentrification - which is a double edged sword – is benefiting all families. We need a policy that allows San Antonio families, whether they rent or they own to age in place.”
There are a total of 14 candidates running for San Antonio mayor. The bond election will be on the May 6 ballot with the election for mayor and council members .