‘Housing Is a Right': Leaders Work to Preserve Affordable Housing in San Diego

According to a study set to be released next Tuesday, 72 percent of homes in San Diego priced for the lowest-income renters have been lost over the last 20 years

Los Angeles Rent November 2019
AFP via Getty Images

Leaders of the San Diego City Council and San Diego Housing Commission have completed a study outlining ways to preserve affordable housing for low-income renters in the city in the coming years.

San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez – who is also running for Congress – said she grew up in Barrio Logan and her family didn’t always have a home of their own. So, for her, this study and this issue hit close to home.

“A safe and reliable home is the foundation that creates the stability that tackles all life challenges,” Gomez said at a news briefing Thursday. “I believe housing is a right.”

Gomez said she believes every resident, no matter their income, should have access to an affordable place to live, whether that’s a single-room unit, an apartment, or a house.

She said she’s been working for years to figure out ways to make this happen for all residents of San Diego.

According to the newly-released study, there were approximately 91,900 housing units in San Diego in the year 2000 that were affordable for very low-income households. Twenty years later, there are 25,900 unit in the city projected to be affordable to very low-income families.

That’s a 72% decrease in affordable housing inventory, the study said.

“This decrease occurred in naturally occurring affordable housing units that do not have deed restrictions requiring them to maintain affordability,” a press release noted. “They are affordable because of market factors.”

The study said an average of 750 new, deed-restricted, affordable housing units can be expected to be built each year in San Diego between 2020 and 2040. But, during that same time period, the affordability status of an existing 4,200 units will expire, which is about 200 units per year, the study said.

According to Gomez’s research, more than half of all renting households in San Diego spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and thus, are “cost-burdened.”

Gomez has made housing preservation a priority since 2017 when she released her Housing Action Plan.

The San Diego Housing Commission has created a database of deed-restricted affordable housing units citywide and commissioned this study to identify housing preservation needs. The study aims to recommend strategies for policymakers to consider.

The study will be formally presented to the San Diego City Council on June 2. The report will recommend 10 strategies.

The San Diego Housing Commission wants to set aside approximately $22 million to preserve affordable housing in its Fiscal Year 2021 budget. That needs approval from the San Diego City Council.

Gomez said the study is a “tool in the toolbox” as the city continues to look for ways to build and preserve affordable housing.

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