Housing bond measure has strong support 

City supporters hoping to get sizable portion of $2.8 billion for affordable units to add to 2002’s Prop 46 funds

San Francisco’s affordable housing advocates found hope this week in new poll numbers showing that of the five infrastructure bonds put on this November’s ballot by the state legislature, the $2.85 billion housing bond has the most comfortable lead.

Proposition 1C is part of a larger, $37 billion package that seeks to also support water facilities, transportation and education facilities infrastructure in California. Called the Housing and Emergency Shelter Trust Fund Act of 2006, 57 percent of registered voters surveyed by the Public Policy Institute of California were in support of the measure, with 30 percent against and 13 percent undecided.

Supporters of the housing bond measure say it will build upon the affordable housing created through the passage of Proposition 46 in 2002. That money — $2.1 billion — is running out, according to Sarah Karlinsky, policy director of the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, a non-profit public policy group.

"It was extremely well used," Karlinsky said. "It will be difficult for nonprofits to develop affordable housing if Prop 1C doesn’t pass."

The Bay Area received nearly one-fourth of the Proposition 46 funds. San Francisco received more than $79 million, which it used to support or develop 2,234 affordable housing units, 375 of which were for first-time homebuyers. About 1,100 were rental apartments, with approximately half of those providing supportive services, according to the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California.

"We benefited handsomely from Proposition 46," said Tim Colen, executive director of the San Francisco Housing Action Coalition. "An extraordinary amount of subsidies came to San Francisco, largely due to the political clout our legislators have."

In addition to supporting affordable housing for families, former foster youth and the disabled, Proposition 1C also provides grants for development of emergency shelters, provides funds for development of housing near public transportation hubs, creates housing for farmworkers and allocates money for parks near residential developments, among other programs.

Supporters of the bond measure include the California Chamber of Commerce, the American Association of Retired People and the California Association of Counties. Opponents include the California Republican Party and the California Taxpayer’s Association, which bristled at the $6 billion debt Prop 1C would build over its 30 years.

"There are other programs that provide housing at the local and state level that do not involve billions of dollars of debt for future generations," Ron Roach of the California Taxpayers Association said.

There are two main avenues for creating affordable housing in San Francisco. One is through inclusionary laws that require private developers to build affordable units when they want to create market-rate projects. The other is through taxpayer-supported subsidies used to create housing units.

Although the subsidized programs are open to private and nonprofit developers, nonprofit developers more often get these funds because they’re familiar with the complex layers of financing that such developments regularly entail, said Tina Duong, an official with the Non Profit Housing Association of Northern California.

beslinger@examiner.com

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Bonnie Eslinger

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