Help Wanted: Housing Commissioners needed to hold City accountable

Affordable housing in San Antonio includes single family and  multi-family buildings

By Jolene Almendarez, NOWCastSA

In its final report, the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force called on the city to develop a coordinated housing system, increase city investment in housing, increase affordable housing and protect and promote neighborhoods.

But to keep its work from ending up collecting dust on the governmental shelf of good ideas, the Task Force called on the Mayor and City Council to “create a layer of public accountability for the City and its partners” by reconstituting a Housing Commission to oversee implementation of the Task Force’s recommendations.

The Task Force said the Housing Commission should have nine members, “five of whom should be selected to represent the people of San Antonio.”

The other four commissioners are top executives from the San Antonio Housing Authority, San Antonio Housing Trust, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and VIA Metropolitan Transit. The city is currently taking applications to fill the five community-at-large seats on the commission.  Mayor Ron Nirenberg will nominate the candidates with advice from City Council and the nominees will be voted on by the City Council.

Read the Mayor's Housing Policy Task Force report here. 

In its report, the Task Force suggests that community appointees "have a history of engagement on housing and neighborhood related issues, as well as the stature necessary to hold elected officials and City staff accountable for the implementation of the report." Additionally, it is important that the commission be well-rounded, diverse and committed to the values of the MHPTF process and recommendations.”

Read Nirenberg’s memo below:

Members of the commission will serve two-year, staggered terms, aligned with city council terms. The initial terms will be up on May 19, 2019, when the entire city council is up for re-election.The Housing Commission’s first deadline is July 2019, when it must issue an annual report on policy recommendations and a budget request for fiscal year 2019-2020.

According to the report, the Housing Commission is responsible for the following:

  • "Developing an annual report to track and publicly report results of the full housing system, including but not limited to: unit production, cost burden, preservation, rehabilitation, leverage and rental production for 0 to 30 percent AMI and 30 to 60 percent AMI."
  • "...Carry out a transparent, data-driven, third-party assessment to determine whether the City is meeting its goals, potentially benchmarking efforts against peer cities, and ensuring accountability in the implementation of all aspects of this report."
  • Create a report that uses data to "define metrics to be tracked, such as the total investment by program by source of funds, the number of new units produced by location and income level, the number of tax credit units preserved, the number of homes rehabilitated by location and income level, and the range of affordability metrics collected and analyzed through this process, among others."
  • Keep track of metrics collaboratively with other public organizations and commissions.

María Antonietta Berriozábal, a community rights activist and former city councilwoman who served on the Task Force, said the Housing Commission will be responsible making sure those initiatives happen. 

“We didn’t tell them how to do it, we just mentioned what needs to be done,” she said.

For more information about how to apply to the commission, click here and find the Housing Commission tab.

A representative from Nirenberg’s office said there’s no time frame for filling the positions but said he hopes to appoint people to the commission soon.