Housing Commission

Vecinos has been following the policy process that unfolded in the wake of the rezoning of Mission Trails Mobile Home Community, beginning with a task force on gentrification and proceeding with the current Housing Commission. It is very important for all San Antonio residents living inside Loop 410, and especially those who live in the Mission Reach area, to stay abreast of what the Housing Commission is doing. We saw what happened in the absence of good policy protections against displacement; now that they are considering how to create these protections, we have to make sure that what they come up with is effective. They are currently making decisions about our neighborhoods and homes, so they need to hear from us! Below is a FAQ we’ve assembled about what the Housing Commission has been up to for the past several months:

What is the City’s “Housing Commission to Protect and Preserve Dynamic and Diverse Neighborhoods,” and what does it do? 

The Housing Commission to Protect and Preserve Dynamic and Diverse Neighborhoods–aka the Housing Commission–was formed in direct response to the displacement of Mission Trails families. When the City of San Antonio (COSA) voted in May 2014 to rezone Mission Trails Mobile Home Community for luxury apartments, then-Mayor Julian Castro called for the formation of a task force on gentrification, and then a housing commission, whose purpose would be to review existing housing-related policy and recommend new policies that would create more affordable housing and protect inner city residents from further displacement due to the impact of downtown redevelopment.

The gentrification task force met from November 2014 through May 2015 and made both short- and long-term recommendations (outlined below). The very first one was to create a Housing Commission that would develop their other recommendations into more full-fledged policy suggestions that the City Council council would then enact (or not).

Who is on the Housing Commission?

The Housing Commission has been meeting monthly since September 2015, and is composed of 15 seats, 5 of which have been appointed by Mayor Ivy Taylor and 10 of which have been appointed by City Council members (one per district). Members are are supposed to represent different “stakeholder” groups; according to the COSA website, these include

“one (1) non-profit developer, one (1) non-profit housing provider, one (1) housing law and/or policy expert, one (1) academic/ historian, one (1) architect or urban designer, one (1) construction professional, one (1) San Antonio Housing Authority representative, two (2) financial institution representatives, two (2) for-profit private real estate/ development representatives, and four (4) neighborhood group/ community representatives (one (1) of which shall be a non-profit service provider).”

[Note that when the composition of the Commission was voted on by City Council, District 9 representative Joe Krier successfully moved to increase the number of for-profit private real estate/development representatives from one to two.]

As listed on COSA’s website, here is the list of Commission members and who appointed them:

Staff Liaison: Chris Lazaro – (210) 207-0145

 Name  District Appointed Date Date Expires
 Mr. ROD RADLE  District 1 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Ms. JACKIE L. GORMAN  District 2 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. GABRIEL Q VELASQUEZ  District 3 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. MU S. CHI  District 4 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Ms. DEBRA A. GUERRERO  District 5 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. MICHAEL A. HOGAN (VICE CHAIR)  District 6 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Dr. REBECCA J. WALTER  District 7 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. NOAH GARCIA  District 8 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. GEORGE J. BALLIET  District 9 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. GILBERT M. PIETTE  District 10 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. JAMES H. BAILEY  Mayoral 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Ms. JENNIFER M. GONZALEZ (CHAIR)  Mayoral 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Ms. NATALIE GRIFFITH  Mayoral 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Mr. RICHARD MILK  Mayoral 09/18/2015 05/31/2017
 Ms. CAROL RODRIGUEZ  Mayoral 09/18/2015 05/31/2017

 

What is the Housing Commission discussing?

The Housing Commission is developing the following set of policies, as recommended by the gentrification task force:

Short-term recommendations:

  • Create a San Antonio Housing Commission [completed]
  • Amend the zoning change notification process [so that apartment and mobile home tenants who would be impacted by a zoning change would receive notice, unlike in the case of Mission Trails)
  • Designate the City Housing Counseling Program and the Fair Housing Council of Greater San Antonio as primary resources for residents.
  • Develop a relocation assistance policy in the event that people are displaced by a city-incentivized development project
  • Plan and Host an annual Housing Summit [to be held this year at the end of September 2016]

Long-term recommendations:

  • Conduct a systematic assessment of City ordinances and policies to determine their impact on displacement and neighborhood change.
  • Explore inclusionary housing policies for residential development [this means that the city can require or provide incentives to developers to set aside a certain percentage of units of their projects as affordable or section 8 units]
  • Develop a plan and timeline for the issuance of a housing bond [they’re talking about a $17M bond, to be voted on in 2017]
  • Identify ongoing sources of funds to be utilized by the San Antonio Housing Trust and Nonprofit Housing providers.
  • Amend the Unified Development Code to support alternative housing types.
  • Explore the development of a Community Land Trust
  • Explore tools for the protection of existing mobile/manufactured home communities and residents.
  • Explore the creation of a neighborhood empowerment zone and other tools to provide targeted property tax relief for long-time residents.

To develop these recommendations into actual policy, the Housing Commission is broken out into three subcommittees, one focused on the housing bond, another focused on reviewing and updating city policy as it impacts housing access and security; and a third focused on displacement (considering mobile home residents in particular). The subcommittee level is very important, as it is the space where the process is most open-ended and open to influence–where the decisions have not been made yet and the deal is not yet done.

What is the Housing Commission’s timeline?

As presented back in September of 2015 when the Commission began meeting, the goal of city staff is to have recommendations from the Housing Commission to the City Council for consideration by June 2016. It is likely that they will want to vote on recommendations by the time of the Housing Summit at the end of September 2016. The window for community to influence the process before policy recommendations are set is thus very narrow.

When and how can residents present their ideas and requests?
  • The Housing Commission meets once a month, usually on the last Tuesday of the month, from 4-6pm. They meet in the the B-session room of the city council chambers building across from City Hall, which is at the corner of Flores and Commerce. Parking is available in the city-owned garage across the street.
  • Every meeting, there are 15 mins given at beginning of the meeting for residents to give input. If you want to speak, you have to sign up before the meeting starts.
  • The subcommittees also meet once a month, in the weeks prior to the main meeting, to discuss things in more depth: 

    Housing bond subcommittee meets the 2nd Weds of the month from 11:30am-1pm

    Policy and Infrastrucutre subcommittee meets the 2nd Tues of the month from 11:30am-1pm

    Resident Retention subcommittee meets the 3rd Tuesday of the month from 11:30am-1pm

  • Subcommittee meetings are open to the public and anyone can attend to observe.

Which policy considerations most impact residents of the Mission Reach??

  • allocating any money from the housing bond or other funding sources to home repair/maintenance for existing residents so they can stay in their homes
  • property tax freezes so that as the Mission Reach area undergoes redevelopment, property taxes don’t go up for homeowners
  • strong protections for mobile home residents so that their parks are in good condition, so that they don’t get displaced by development, so that they can collectively own their parks
  • community benefit agreements with developers so that if they receive incentives to build, they have to pay into an affordable housing or just relocation fund
  • changes to the rezoning notification process so that *everyone* in a 200 ft radius of a proposed zoning change (renters as well as owners) are notified.  They are almost done talking about this one without any solid way of notifying renters. They basically just want to make the sign bigger. However, there is still disagreement within the Commission.

The Commission needs to hear from the residents their decisions impact in order to make good policy! Please contact Vecinos if you want more information or want to come to the meetings.

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