Housing for whom? - Page 2

Newsom spins data on affordable home construction just as the issue comes before voters

B and has refused to spend affordable housing money allocated by supervisors in the past, it's unclear how he plans to create 13,000 affordable housing units anytime soon.

Newsom also said that the Home 15/5 plan "increases the city's production of housing affordable to low- and very-low income households to the highest levels ever, comprising 33 percent of all new homes built." This percentage is similar to the SF Planning Department's production goals for 2007-14: the city strives to create 31,000 housing units, 39 percent affordable. Both aims fall far below the SF Housing Element's objective, which states that 64 percent of the city's housing units should be affordable. But they're a start, or would be — if they actually come true.

A look at the SF Planning Department's housing production statistics show that only 4,705 low- or very-low affordable housing units had been built as of June 2008. That's a mere 19 percent, a far cry from Newsom's 33 percent assertion. It wasn't just a slow year — the number of moderate and market-priced housing built over the same period surpassed target production goals by more than 500 units. If San Francisco continues to produce at this speed, the city will not only fail to produce enough affordable housing units, but will increase the ratio of the very rich among city residents.

With help from Prop. B, the city could start working its way toward meeting the mandate of the city's Housing Element, which states that two- thirds of city housing should be affordable. Unfortunately the Housing Element may also be under attack this November: the Planning Department is holding a public scoping meeting Nov. 6 — two days after the election — to discuss preparations for an environmental impact report.

Although 64 percent affordability may seem like a lofty goal now, a decrease in Housing Element aims and the lean budgetary years ahead could mean a continuation of policies that build mostly market-rate housing that remains unaffordable to most San Franciscans.

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