Homes for whom? - Page 2

Homes for whom? Affordable housing is shaping up to be the big political issue of 2008

Newsom's budget also acknowledges the shortage, pumping $217 million into housing programs."

But, according to Welch, "the lie was that Newsom allocated $217 million when he really only allocated $78 million and the board added a further $10 million to the pot.... Newsom was taking credit for more than he was actually allocating and using those other funds to imply that he'd already used a massive amount of the General Fund when he was, in fact, allocating less than the year before. So he was actually talking about a cut."

Newsom press secretary Nathan Ballard told the Guardian that the total affordable-housing budget for fiscal year 2007–08 was $226 million — and of that total budget, "just approximately $90 million is General Fund dollars.

"The balance of funding (the difference between $226 million and $90 million) is a whole variety of other funding sources," he added, listing inclusionary housing in-lieu fees, redevelopment funds, jobs housing linkage fees levied on private development, federal and state sources, and other funds, many of which accumulate over many years, further distorting the budget picture.

But Welch said the housing situation is grim. As he told us, "The truth is that 92 percent of the city's population can't afford housing."

Daly's affordable-housing amendment awaits a Jan. 8 board vote, following a request by Maxwell to allow for affordable housing to be built on sites used under the San Francisco Housing Authority — the so-called Hope SF program — a request Daly supports.

"My issue with Hope SF is [with] any proposal to build a large number of market-rate units on public housing sites," Daly explained, referring to a central tenet of the Newsom-created program.

Meanwhile, a June 2008 ballot measure being pushed by Newsom, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and a host of other prominent local power brokers threatens to drain what little money the city does have for affordable housing in order to subsidize a massive push by Lennar Corp. to build 8,000 to 10,000 new houses in Candlestick Point, Hunters Point, and the Bayview.

Other than committing to replace low-income Alice Griffith public housing units at a one-to-one ratio, the Bayview Jobs, Parks and Housing Measure does not specify what percentage of the Lennar-built homes will be considered affordable or sold below market rates. Publicly, backers of the measure are presenting the efforts as focused on building a new stadium for the San Francisco 49ers, even though the team has said it would rather move to Santa Clara. Yet the campaign is also keenly aware of the public support for more affordable housing, at least if its ground-level pitches are any indication.

A paid signature gatherer who was recently working the 24th Street BART station (and who also told a Guardian source he was getting the unusually high sum of $2.50 per signature) presented the proposal to passersby as "an affordable housing measure."