The San Juan Square apartment complex.
The San Juan Square apartment complex, on the West Side, is an affordable housing community. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

When San Antonio approved its housing policy in 2018, the City anticipated the need for 18,600 new or sustained affordable housing units. But the city has already met and succeeded several targets for home production and rehabilitation projects, so officials are more than doubling that target to 47,600 units in its 10-year Strategic Housing Implementation Plan.

“[This] is a very good thing, but we needed to step back and look at how we can redefine affordability in the community and set new targets,” Ian Benavidez, assistant director of the City’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department told the City Council’s Planning and Land Development Committee on Monday.

This new target represents roughly half of the more than 95,000 vulnerable households in San Antonio, which pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing expenses. Benavides said 47,600 is more realistic than 95,000 over the 10-year plan, Benavides said. The targets for the production of rental units and owner-occupied rehabilitation increased the most.

This graph shows a large proposed increase in City of San Antonio's affordable housing goals.
This graph shows a large proposed increase in City of San Antonio’s affordable housing goals. Credit: Courtesy / City of San Antonio

The vulnerable-households data is from the U.S. Census Bureau’s annual survey but will likely change given the coronavirus pandemic, Benavidez said. “What the impact is on cost burden will not be seen until next year.”

The City’s implementation plan, which includes these targets as well as policies surrounding gentrification and homelessness prevention, is slated for completion in January. That plan would require approval from City Council, San Antonio Housing Trust, and San Antonio Housing Authority.

One such policy that will likely be fast-tracked through this process is an ordinance that would prevent source of income discrimination. This occurs when a landlord or seller refuses to rent or sell to an applicant based on their lawful form of income such as a Section 8 housing voucher or other subsidy.

Source of income is not protected under the federal Fair Housing Act, and Texan cities cannot issue blanket ordinances related to federal housing – except for those that apply to veterans, Benavidez said.

However, San Antonio could prohibit such discrimination in all housing that has received incentives from the City, he said.

The ordinance would be modeled after one approved in Dallas in 2016.

Renters or homebuyers who receive support through other programs such as the Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS, Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing, or Social Security would be protected by the ordinance.

Councilman Roberto Treviño (D1) said he has been contacted by several residents who are pushing for this ordinance.

“If the City is providing any level of incentive for housing, then we need to ensure that every resident who has the means can live there,” Treviño said.

Iris Dimmick

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org