“S.F. Mayor Lee, Supervisor Avalos to Unveil Dueling Housing Bonds”
The solution to the city’s housing crisis could become a bidding war at the Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday.
That’s when Mayor Ed Lee is to introduce a $250 million housing bond for the November ballot, moving forward on his goal to construct or rehabilitate 30,000 units by 2020. He won’t be the only one introducing a bond measure. Supervisor John Avalos will introduce his own $500 million housing bond.
Avalos is making no secret that he is using his measure as political leverage to try to force the mayor to increase the size of his bond.
“I’m interested in one measure going to the ballot, so I want to come to a consensus,” Avalos said. “One hundred million more than what (the mayor) is envisioning would go a long way to rebuilding neighborhoods that are in need of infrastructure support.”
The competing bond proposals come at an inflection point for the city, as rents jumped 40 percent last year — from $3,300 to $4,580 for an average two-bedroom apartment — and the median sales price of $1.03 million has crowded out middle- and low-income residents, according to Real Answers, a database publisher that specializes in the housing market.
The details of the mayor’s plan are still being worked out, but there are broad outlines: The money will help build or rehabilitate 15,000 units by 2020 for people who qualify as middle class or below. The other 15,000 new units will be market-rate.
The $250 million in bond money would go toward three categories: public housing, low-income housing and middle-class housing. Of those groups, the mayor has committed the most money — between $100 million and $150 million — to low-income housing, which is eligible to a two-person household that earns up to $65,200 per year.
At least $50 million would go to public housing, which is eligible to a two-person household making $40,750 a year or less. Much of this housing falls into the rehabilitation category, meaning it won’t put new units on the market but it will revamp existing ones and ensure that private developers don’t sweep them up.
Finally, the mayor has committed at least $25 million to create housing for middle-income earners, which is roughly incomes up to $140,000 for a two-person household.
That leaves up to $75 million in flexible spending that the mayor could divvy up among the three categories.
The bond will not pay for all of the new housing. Instead, the mayor said it makes up a portion of a $1.1 billion overall funding pipeline over the next five years that will help pay for the construction of new units and rehabilitation of others.
As of Monday, a majority of the 11-member Board of Supervisors had signed on as co-sponsors to the mayor’s bond measure: London Breed, Julie Christensen, Malia Cohen, Mark Farrell, Katy Tang and Scott Wiener.
“Public housing is affordable housing, and we in this bond will make sure it’s not neglected,” Breed said Monday.
“The shopping list is quite big for the size of the bond, so we are really hoping the administration is able over the next month to work with the board to get the size increased.”
Avalos said his bond measure would be spent in roughly the same proportions as the mayor’s plan, but twice as much.
The mayor has repeatedly said a $250 million bond, which needs a two-thirds majority to pass, represents the largest bond the city can float without raising property taxes. He repeated that assertion Monday.
“Some people might say $250 million isn’t enough,” Lee said. “I think this is the responsible, winnable measure that we can do.”
Avalos countered that the mayor could get a bigger bond measure passed if he campaigned for it.
“He’s very popular, and if he’s out there with his popularity and convinces people it’s the right thing to do, they’ll vote for it.”
Housing bond measures failed in San Francisco in 2002 and 2004.