Nonprofits, city housing department stretch budgets to create affordable housing as costs for materials rise

Nonprofits, city housing department stretch budgets to create affordable housing as costs for building materials rises
Nonprofits, city housing department stretch budgets to create affordable housing as costs for building materials rises

SAN ANTONIO – Nonprofits and the city of San Antonio are forced to stretch their budget as the price of homes and building materials rise, presenting a challenge in creating affordable housing for low-income communities.

San Antonio’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department provides affordable housing programs for the community through grants to develop or rehab affordable homes.

In some instances, the department also helps first-time homeowners who qualify get down payment assistance. But the rising cost of home prices and materials means fewer citizens get help.

Eighty percent of Veronica Soto’s job is to deliver affordable housing programs on a budget as the director of Neighborhood and Housing Services. She said the city has to change its policy of giving to increase the amounts. Those kinds of decisions take time and city council approval, but they’re necessary if they want the affordable programs to be effective.

“The same amount of money we gave out last year is not going to yield the same number of units,” Soto said.

Officials with Habitat for Humanity San Antonio, one of the nonprofits that teams up with the city to provide affordable housing, say they feel the pinch of increased costs.

Stephanie Wiese, vice president of Habitat for Humanity San Antonio, says shipping costs out of Asia are four to five times now. Trucking costs are twice what it usually costs, she said.

“We’re seeing about a $10,000 increase per house. That’s hard when we’re building 51 Habitat Homes and all these other homes in the community,” Wiese said.

Habitat for Humanity San Antonio says it works hard to ensure those extra costs don’t trickle down to its homeowners.

Wiese says the community has been very giving to help them be able to deliver the same number of homes, but the increasing costs means they’re limited in their ability to grow.

The San Antonio Housing Trust recently granted Habitat for Humanity San Antonio $200,000 for help on the construction of 20 houses.

Soto says the city will take a look at next year’s budget starting in August. Her hope is that there will be an increase if the city hopes to save the same amount of people as this year.

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About the Authors:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Chandler Watson is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Originally from the Houston area, he graduated from Texas State University in 2018 with a bachelor’s of science in Mass Communication. Chandler is no stranger to San Antonio, as he’s worked here for 3 years prior to joining KSAT. He’s excited to bring you the stories of our community!