Affordable housing development Ten Fifty B / Photo by Sam Hodgson

As the housing crisis continues to rage, politicians and advocates are exploring all types of ways to create more government-sponsored affordable housing.

One VOSD reader wrote in to The People’s Reporter – our feature in which you can submit questions for us to investigate, explain and answer – with a good question: What exactly do we mean when we talk about affordable housing, and how does it work? “Are they apartments, condos, single-family homes? Do the residents actually own the homes, or are they rentals?” he asked.

Affordable housing, after all, doesn’t just mean housing that is relatively cheap. It’s usually referring to various types of government-subsidized programs.

In a new story, Lisa Halverstadt runs down the many types of programs that exist in San Diego to provide affordable housing, the range of incomes required to qualify for one, challenges that have dogged the programs and some of the recent reforms aimed at overcoming those challenges.

If you’d like to submit a question for The People’s Reporter to answer, head here.

  • Sen. Scott Wiener this year proposed the most dramatic reform to housing development — both affordable and market-rate — that the state has seen in decades. His SB 50 would have let developers build tall, dense apartments near jobs, transit or schools, no questions asked. But the Senate, led by San Diego state Sen. Toni Atkins, quickly shelved the bill, holding it until next year.

Atkins now says she’s going to play a major role in moving the bill forward next year, according to a new story by KPBS.

“There will be changes to (SB 50), obviously, and I’ll be really involved in helping make that happen,” Atkins told KPBS. “This is a key issue, but we’ve got to do it right and we’ve got to have people who support us moving forward.”

The ABCs of the New CCA

San Diego is officially in the energy business. Elected officials joined with neighboring cities last week to form a “community choice” energy agency, or CCA, and Ry Rivard lays out the knowns and unknowns of this big endeavor in the Environment Report.

The city, for instance, is estimating that it can provide cheaper power than SDG&E, but it isn’t technically obligated to do that. City Councilman Scott Sherman, who opposed the formation of a CCA, said the region was simply swapping a private monopoly for a public one.

Indeed, one of the advantages of a government-run energy agency is that people can have more say over where their power comes from. But that’ll depend on people showing up and participating. 

It remains to be seen how open and transparent the public energy process is going to be, and it may be years before we know if the city has kept its promise to lower rates and reduce greenhouse gases. 

In Other News

  • The U-T is continuing to publish stories this week about jail inmate deaths — including this one  about lapses in medical care that spelled horrific ends for mentally ill inmates. 
  • The U-T’s Michael Smolens reviews the status of legal theories that the mayor’s initiative to increase hotel room taxes could pass with just a simple majority support from voters. Verdict? Not looking good but likely to go to the state Supreme Court.
  • Vons is accused of transferring employees facing sexual harassment and assault allegations. (NBC 7)
  • An investigation by San Clemente High School confirmed that racial slurs were used against Lincoln High students when the two schools played a recent football game, but the report didn’t say whether anyone would be disciplined as a result of the findings. (Los Angeles Times)
  • The San Diego Police Department announced it will send the racial profiling data it’s now legally required to collect to an outside think tank to be analyzed. (Union-Tribune)
  • Major development, freeways and border upgrades are transforming Otay Mesa into an economic engine. (Union-Tribune) 
  • North County elected officials have been fending off proposed changes to the region’s long-term spending plan for transportation projects by emphasizing that a shift from highway projects to transit expenditures would disproportionately come at their constituents’ expense. Yet it is the North County Transit District that is fighting to make sure its planned purchase of extra Coaster trains remains part of the region’s transportation blueprint. The agency’s leader says the trains will let it increase frequency on the Coaster. (Union-Tribune)

The Morning Report was written by Sara Libby and Jesse Marx, and edited by Scott Lewis.

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