With all the controversial and conflicting items on this year’s local ballot, it’s nice to know that there is one that almost everyone can agree on. Proposition B, the local Affordable Housing Bond, is a positive move towards a permanent solution for San Francisco’s housing crisis. The vast majority of the Board of Supervisors, an overwhelming number of faith, labor and community organizations and even “duh Mayor” support it — all for good reason.
In the City, rents and home prices have doubled since 1995, adversely affecting working families and seniors. Only eight percent of San Franciscans can afford to buy a home and over 100,000 residents pay more than half their monthly income on rent, leaving very little money available for other goods and services that are necessary for life and our economy. 140,000 people qualify for housing assistance in San Francisco and don’t receive it because of a lack of funding — partly due to cuts from the federal government in recent years. It is obvious that something has to be done.
In 1996, San Francisco was the first city in the nation to use bonds for affordable housing development through the $100 million Affordable Housing and Home Ownership Opportunity Bond. According to a recent report by San Francisco Urban Research Association (SPUR) the program was extremely successful, providing 1,812 new and rehabilitated apartments, 264 supportive home for the homeless, 240 loans for first time homebuyers and creating thousands of new jobs. There should be no doubt that this program should be extended.
Proposition B, if approved by a two-thirds vote, will make $250 million available to local housing developers over the next five years for the development of permanent affordable housing. The funds will be awarded based upon competitive bids and independent auditors will monitor all bond expenditures, with the audits available for public view. All housing will be required to be affordable for fifty years or the life of the building, whichever is longer. The bond will allocate $185 million to the development of every affordable rental housing with rents never to exceed 30 percent of a household’s income. $65 million is for loans to first time homebuyers earning less than $86,000 a year for a family of four and the building of new affordable homes for purchase. The Capitol Improvement Committee of the City has reported that an estimated 3,000- 4,500 affordable rental units would be developed and some 1,100-1,400 loans would be made over the 25 year life of the Proposition B bond.
Proposition B will provide new affordable rental opportunities for tenants, assist young families in buying their first home, provide assistance to seniors and families at risk of homelessness, build housing that young working people can afford, and reduce housing costs for thousands of San Franciscans providing a stimulus to our local economy, helping us all.
VOTE YES ON B!