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Housing Withers on the Vine

May 13, 2015

By Patrick Monette-Shaw : stoplhhdownsize – excerpt

On the heels of my April article (“Mayor’s Housing Scam, Redux,”), there’s more disturbing news about the sorry state of housing production during San Francisco’s housing crisis.
When the Civil Grand Jury issued its report “The Mayor’s Office of Housing: Under Pressure and Challenged to Preserve Diversity,” in June 2014, the Jury fretted about whether the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD) might tap into the $1.3 billion Housing Trust Fund created by voters in 2012 expressly to fund affordable housing in San Francisco in an attempt to divert Housing Trust Funds to San Francisco’s beleaguered Housing Authority for use in rebuilding public housing.   That’s exactly what is happening.  My new article reports that the MOHCD’s third-year budget for the Housing Trust Fund intends to “loan” the Housing Authority nearly $3 million from the Housing Trust Fund.  The Grand Jury was, as they say, prescient.

Now we’ll see whether this results in a permanent loss in Housing Trust Funds intended to achieve affordable housing goal production for traditional low- and moderate-income populations, as the Grand Jury worried.

The Grand Jury was also worried about policy concerns involving housing parity and fair distribution of housing built for all income tiers.  Although the Grand Jury reported that the City had achieved 113% of market rate housing production between 2007 and 2014 identified in the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) goals set for the City but that the City had only produced 16% of the RHNA goals for low-income earners, and just 25% of the RHNA housing goals for moderate-income earners, the Jury hadn’t included housing “entitled” in the housing pipeline, but not yet built.

By way of contrast, when MOHCD finally got around to publishing an overdue Annual Report, it included a table showing that when housing units that have been “entitled” to be built by the Planning Department but not yet constructed are factored in, market-rate housing projects jumped to 197% of the RHNA housing allocation goals for “above moderate income” households, but moderate-income households that were built or are entitled reached only 26% of the RHNA goal.

Translated, that means 24,244 market-rate units have been built or entitled between 2007 and 2014, but only 7,941 middle-income units were built or are entitled.  Is this the kind of “parity” and “fair distribution” the Grand Jury thought appropriate?

The Planning Department reports there were a total of 3,514 new units adding to the City’s housing stock in 2014, but fully 78.5% of the new units were market-rate units, and just 21.5% were new affordable units.  Obviously, this falls far short of Supervisor Jane Kim’s “declaration of policy” 33% goal she was snookered into sponsoring with the Mayor on the November 2014 ballot, and nowhere near the 50% of affordable housing goals the Mayor set in his 2014 and 2015 State-of-the-City speeches.

A PowerPoint presentation MOHCD made to the San Francisco Family Support Network in 2013 reports the Housing Trust Fund will play a critical role in funding completion of 3,000 housing units for the chronically homeless replete with supportive housing services, and the Housing Trust Fund’s third-year budget will be tapped for $1.6 million for other services, rather than using the funds to actually build desperately-needed housing.

The Housing Trust Fund’s third-year budget will skyrocket from $25.6 million to $50.6 million by creative borrowing against future General Fund allocations to the Housing Trust Fund.  That’s in addition to using the Housing Trust Fund as collateral to issue bonded debt.

MOHCD reports that housing project developers have paid apparently paid $170 million in Inclusionary Housing Fees, ostensibly in lieu of building on- or off-site affordable housing on the principal project sites, and ostensibly for units that were not constructed.  MOHCD has offered no explanation of what it has done with the $170 million in fees paid.

This comes even as the Mayor wants voters to approve issuing a $250 million housing bond come November 2015.  The Mayor has offered no explanation as to where $170 million has been, or will be, spent and now wants an additional $250 million handed to him by voters.

The Board of Supervisors isn’t scheduled to hold a hearing on MOHCD’s stewardship of the Housing Trust Fund until 2018, after the first five years the Trust Fund will have been in existence.  The Board of Supervisors needs to legislatively change that, and conduct a hearing on the Housing Trust Fund during 2015… (more)

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