San Diego Housing Federation headquarters in North Park
San Diego Housing Federation headquarters in an affordable housing development in North Park. Courtesy SDHF

The City Council Rules Committee voted to move forward with the San Diego Housing Federation’s proposed $900 million bond issue to finance construction of affordable housing.

A resolution declaring a severe shortage of affordable housing passed 3-2 on Wednesday. The next step is a vote by the full council later this year or early next to place the bond issue on the November ballot.

Should it pass, the bond measure would fund the construction of 7,500 affordable housing units for veterans, homeless families, elderly and disabled residents. It would be paid off through a property tax surcharge.

“Today’s action by the Rules Committee is an important step to move this bond measure forward and shows a commitment by the City Council to address homelessness in San Diego,” said Stephen Russell, executive director of the housing federation. “We need solutions that respond to the scale of the problem and this bond measure, combined with the proposed TOT tax, does just that.”

Voters will be asked in the March primary to increase the transit occupancy tax, which is paid by hotel guests, to fund services for the homeless, expand the downtown convention center and repair streets. Then the bond issue would follow on the November ballot, if the full council approves.

Russell said the housing federation will work with a coalition of organizations to develop language for the November ballot and to raise money for a campaign that will educate residents about the need for funding affordable housing.

Councilmembers Chris Cate and Mark Kersey voted against the resolution, arguing that voters should not be asked to pay higher property taxes for housing that is newer and in some cases more expensive than their own. Homeowners would be paying $72 more a year in taxes when all of the bonds are issued.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.