In late 2005, my family and I headed down to City Hall one afternoon. We gathered in the largely empty Council Chamber and waited for our item to be called by then Deputy Mayor Toni Atkins. After some time had passed, I stood up and my biography was read aloud. I recall Councilman Jim Madaffer and I having a moment when we discovered that we both attended Madison High School in Clairemont. A short time later, a series of green lights lit up on a board behind the council and Deputy Mayor Atkins congratulated me. I was now a San Diego Housing Commissioner.

My parents were very proud. My relatives beamed with pride that our family, who literally helped build San Diego over four generations, now had one of its own in a position of civic leadership. Afterwards, we stood outside Council Chambers and took pictures to remember the occasion. We made plans to celebrate later. Then my father asked the question that was likely on the minds of all who came to support me that day: “Son, what exactly does a Housing Commissioner do?” I loved the fact that he was so proud of me without knowing exactly what was going on. That’s what parents do, right?

My father and most people I’ve met since my appointment have the same question. I’d like to use this forum to share a little about the work that we’re doing at the San Diego Housing Commission. I’d hope to use today’s Café to complement‘s staffs’ fine reporting on housing issues and hear your thoughts on this important subject.

So, what does a Housing Commissioner do? When my dad asked, I explained that the San Diego Housing Commission serves over 75,000 low-income San Diegans each year through a variety of programs, mostly Section 8 rental assistance and public housing. Later I realized I hadn’t told him what commissioners do, but what the commission itself does. It took serving on the commission for a while to adequately explain the role of a commissioner. Thankfully, the amazing staff at the San Diego Housing Commission already had a good explanation on our web site, and I really can’t say it any better than that.


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