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The Game Part 2: A VOSD Investigation
Key Findings
• Under the auspices of addressing the foreclosure crisis, the City Council gave the Housing Commission the freedom to buy properties without council approval in March 2009.
• Since then, the Housing Commission has used that freedom largely to buy non-foreclosed buildings or team up with developers to build new projects, all without City Council oversight.
• The commission has bought or invested in 756 units since March 2009. Only 45 of those (eight single-family homes and 37 apartments in one project) were in foreclosure.
• Three City Council members now say they were tricked into removing oversight of the commission’s deals. Former Councilwoman Donna Frye called the move a “Trojan horse.”
• Even today, commission officials and Councilman Todd Gloria, who pushed the policy change, can’t explain how removing oversight of the agency’s deals was a remedy for the foreclosure crisis.
• The three City Council members who say they were duped are especially concerned about several multimillion-dollar development deals the commission approved. The projects involve complex and potentially risky partnerships with private developers and need public City Council vetting, one of the council members said.
• The commission has also failed to meet its president’s promise to ensure the City Council was fully aware of its deal-making. Rick Gentry, the top official, assured the council that the commission would get a “direct personal response” from council staffers acknowledging that they’d received reports about the deals. That never happened.
• The extraordinary freedom handed to the commission came at the exact time the agency was becoming a major player in local affordable housing development. Since the council cut oversight, the commission has spent almost $80 million acquiring property.

Dagny Salas

Dagny Salas was web editor at Voice of San Diego from 2010 to 2013. She was an investigative fellow at VOSD from 2009 to 2010.

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