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This year’s general election feels daunting for everyone, but especially for San Diegans. Between elected offices and local and state measures, San Diegans face a long and complicated ballot.

Fortunately, there is at least one local measure on the ballot that is a simple choice. A yes vote for Measure M will very simply allow the city of San Diego and its agencies to do the basic work of building affordable housing for low-income residents of our communities.

Low-wage working families, seniors, people with disabilities and veterans are among the San Diegans in desperate need of affordable places to live. If we don’t provide a steady supply of affordable housing units, people become homeless.

Measure M will help our local government continue to address the housing crisis in our region by providing homes to those most in need.

Measure M will not raise new taxes. Measure M will not circumvent any of the usual permitting processes, or community, environmental or San Diego City Council reviews. Measure M makes no changes to existing city laws regarding affordable housing.

What Measure M does do is to give the city of San Diego permission to build the affordable homes our communities so badly need. State law requires that voters approve the development of any rent-controlled homes. In the past, voters pre-emptively approved the city to build up to 10,500 affordable homes. Now the city is getting close to hitting that number. If approved, Measure M would raise the cap on affordable homes and clear the way for the city to more easily build an additional 38,680 affordable housing units – that’s the number of affordable housing units the San Diego Association of Governments says our city needs between now and 2020.

While Measure M doesn’t absolutely guarantee that all of those affordable homes will be built, it allows our city to pursue any available funds and to support the construction of the affordable homes that are so badly needed in our communities.

Affordable housing is one of the most serious issues facing our city. By voting yes on Measure M, voters will ensure that the city has the full authority to build new affordable homes for its residents at every opportunity possible.

Stephen Russell is the executive director of the San Diego Housing Federation.

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