One wonders whether the San Diego City Council has ever heard the expression, “a contradiction in terms”. Its housing policy appears to exemplify it.
A San Diego committee took a preliminary step Wednesday toward placing a $900 million housing bond on the November 2020 ballot.
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The measure was designed to help San Diego secure a greater share of state money devoted to homelessness and affordable housing by providing local matching funds typically required for such assistance.
Supporters say evidence the bond is necessary includes city estimates that San Diego needs more than 5,400 additional housing units geared for homeless people.
Councilman Mark Kersey, who voted “no” along with Councilman Chris Cate, said the subsidized housing units the bond would pay for are too expensive for him to be comfortable asking voters to pay higher property taxes.
He said the average cost for a subsidized unit is typically higher than $400,000.
“You’re now asking San Diegans to subsidize the construction of units that are nicer and more expensive than the ones they themselves live in,” he said. “I think this is going to be a tough sell.”
There’s more at the link.
So, in a city where there’s already a shortage of affordable housing, you plan to make housing less affordable, by making it more expensive to own, by raising property taxes? Verily, the mind doth boggle . . .
As for a cost of $400,000 per subsidized housing unit, that’s just plain insane! What are you building for the homeless – five-star catered accommodation? There’s an old saying that “beggars can’t be choosers”. By all means provide basic accommodation, but luxury housing? Why the hell should the city – or any other government entity – have to provide that? This is touchy-feely do-goodism gone mad!
I think the “Conestoga hut” approach is a much more effective first step – and vastly more economical.
You can read more about Conestoga huts here. They seem like an outstanding idea, and at $2,500 apiece, you can buy 160 of them for the cost of one of the subsidized housing units being proposed in San Diego! Sure, there are issues of sanitation, etc. to be sorted out, but communal bathrooms can be erected at a very reasonable cost per user, and the huts can be erected on vacant lots and/or outside town, if necessary. Feeding arrangements, etc. are a matter of organization. Having worked with the homeless in South Africa, and being familiar with the challenges involved, there would be no insurmountable problems that I can see in setting up a Conestoga Hut village at relatively low cost.
Proponents of a San Diego-style approach will doubtless argue that the Conestoga Hut solution is short-term only, and can’t compare to a permanent home. They’re right – but what makes it a city government’s problem to provide permanent homes? Why should our taxes pay for other people’s housing, except on an emergency or short-term basis? I’m certainly not going to tolerate that where I live, and I’ll apply all my energy, if necessary, to defeating any politician who advocates it. Besides, if it comes to that, providing a new Conestoga hut every two to three years to a permanent resident is still a damned sight cheaper than other alternatives – and one could always build them out of longer-lasting, more durable materials, for not much greater expense.
This entire nation is built upon individual responsibility, not communal. Sure, there are those who will never be able to exercise much in the way of individual responsibility, due to illness, or accident, or whatever; and we should certainly help them. That’s part of being socially responsible, and it’s why I’ve volunteered to help many community efforts (including helping the homeless) over the years. Nevertheless, the help we provide should be affordable and sustainable. $400,000 “free” (i.e. taxpayer-funded) housing units are neither!