Statement: “None of the other cities have a local source” of funding for affordable housing, Susan Tinsky, executive director of the San Diego Housing Federation, said in the Jan. 21 edition of the KPBS program San Diego Week.
Determination: Mostly True
Analysis: Governor Jerry Brown’s proposal to eliminate redevelopment agencies has injected a wave of worry into city officials across the state and affordable housing advocates like Tinsky. After the federal government, redevelopment money is the state’s biggest source of funding for affordable housing projects.
By law, redevelopment agencies must spend at least one-fifth of their main revenue source — a slice of property taxes — on affordable housing. In San Diego County, that means agencies set aside millions of dollars each year for projects that benefit low- and moderate-income residents.
In the public spotlight, city and redevelopment officials across the state have highlighted the potential loss of affordable housing funding as a way to criticize Brown’s overall proposal.
Addressing Brown’s proposal on KPBS, Tinsky said dissolving redevelopment agencies would threaten to dry up local funding for affordable housing and suggested the county’s smaller cities would be harder hit since they haven’t created an affordable housing trust fund like San Diego.
When commercial or industrial developers pay the city fees, part of the money is deposited into a trust fund dedicated toward subsidizing low-income housing. The money helps pay for new units, retrofit old ones or support a number of other programs like those for first-time homebuyers.
While Tinsky’s comparison is accurate — the affordable housing trust fund is unique to San Diego — other cities have used different means to provide local support for new affordable housing projects apart from the aid of redevelopment money or federal grants.
Numerous cities around the county require some developers to build affordable housing units into their plans or pay a fee. If developers don’t build the units, the money generated through the fee supports low-income residential projects similar to those aided by San Diego’s trust fund.
Since Tinsky clarified on KPBS that her comparison specifically referred to trust funds, and in fact, no other city has a similar fee structure, her statement is accurate.
We’ve called it mostly true, because the second local source of funding used by other cities adds an important nuance to consider about her larger point. Numerous cities already support affordable housing through other local means than redevelopment money.
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