San Antonio to fix affordable housing problem before it becomes crisis

Policy changes will be forthcoming in August, city worker says

SAN ANTONIO – The city of San Antonio is looking to fix its housing problem before it becomes a crisis.

Veronica Soto, new director of Neighborhood & Housing Services, said the city is looking at how it issues tax credits and loan incentives to new housing projects.

“The city is tweaking how we have done incentives for housing in downtown area as well,” she said. “I expect, in August, policy changes will be forthcoming.”

People who work in the downtown area, many in the service industry, have to travel for a distance to find affordable housing. For some, living downtown is something they just can’t afford, Linda Espindola said as she waited for her bus in downtown. 

“For the people who can afford it, it’s a luxury, not for me,” she said.

Across from her bus stop is the ongoing construction of one of the many apartment buildings popping up all around downtown. 

“I know they’re building some right there caddy corner, and I’m sure they're going to be very expensive because it's downtown,” Espindola said.

This week, the city’s Historic and Design Review Commission gave conceptual approval for a 17-story mixed-use building on Commerce Street along the Riverwalk. According to the city of San Antonio’s Center City Development and Operations Department, the Floodgate apartment project received $411,288 in waivers of the San Antonio Water System fees and $375,000 in loans because the project is mixed use. 

The taxes the developer pays to the city as a result of their investment will be rebated for 15 years. The housing will likely not be considered affordable housing. There is currently a moratorium by the city of these types of agreements that will be reviewed in August.

Soto said a family of four making about $53,000 a year would have to pay about $1,200 to $1,300, or about 30 percent of their income on housing, to be considered living in affordable housing.

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