The first annual San Antonio Housing Summit. Photo courtesy of Ivy Taylor's Facebook page.
The first annual San Antonio Housing Summit. Photo courtesy of Ivy Taylor's Facebook page.

The Mayor’s Housing Summit will take place on Friday, Sept. 30 from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the Hemisfair Ballroom and meeting rooms at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center.

The event will feature guest speakers and breakout sessions that will update attendees about the current state of San Antonio’s housing market. Mayor Ivy Taylor will kick off the summit, which is designed to facilitate the exchange of ideas and the formation of professional relationships to support the development of vibrant neighborhoods all over the city.

The event is free and open to the public, but ticket registration is required.

Attendees from the real estate industry, the development community, housing-related nonprofit and government agencies, and the business sector have taken part in the annual meeting. This year’s participants will once again receive targeted information and provide feedback on barriers to housing production, especially the development of affordable homes.

The summit offers a backdrop to ongoing public discussions about how best to develop affordable, safe housing in neighborhoods looking for revitalization and will inform policy makers and housing providers in the audience about changes in local policy, rules, and practices.

“We’re looking forward to a full day of sessions that will allow us to explore paths toward being more proactive and strengthening our housing market,” Taylor said.

The housing summit is especially valuable in fostering consistent dialogue about local development issues, she added. As a City staffer, Taylor had once helped organize the event before it went on an extended hiatus. When she took office as mayor, one of her main objectives was to restore the summit to a prospering annual occurrence.

This year’s edition will begin with a breakfast at 8 a.m. and Taylor’s opening remarks.

Bob Jacobs, chairman of the San Antonio Board of Realtors, will follow Taylor with a forecast of the housing market and a comparison of both local and national trends.

“I’m interested in looking at the housing market forecast,” Taylor said. “A data-driven approach really helps in developing policy.”

Bridgett White, interim director of the City’s Department of Planning and Community Development, will brief attendees on the recent passage of SA Tomorrow, the City’s long-range comprehensive plan.

John Fregonese, owner of the Portland-based planning and consulting firm Fregonese Associates, will deliver the keynote luncheon speech. Fregonese Associates was instrumental in helping City staff create a GIS-based feasibility model for REnewSA to identify areas for investment.

Throughout the summit, there will be three breakout work sessions, which will concentrate on five tracks, or issues: financing and funding, homelessness, innovation, policy and planning, and an update on the San Antonio Housing Commission to Protect and Preserve Dynamic and Diverse Neighborhoods.

Mandy DeMayo, executive director of HousingWorks, will present the finance and funding breakout session, which will cover municipal bonds and other new funding sources for local affordable housing. HousingWorks is an Austin-based nonprofit research, education, and advocacy organization that seeks to increase affordable housing in the state capital.

Members of the San Antonio Housing Commission will be available during three tracks to give updates on the housing commission’s work.

The appointed commission, formed last year, recently voted to send a housing bond package to City Council for review. The proposal would have the Office of Urban Redevelopment San Antonio (OUR SA), the City’s urban renewal agency, administer a housing bond, which currently has $12-25 million in recommendations.

“The summit is one more way for us to reflect on (the commission’s) activities,” Taylor said.

Liz Drapa, managing director for consulting and training at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH), will lead a presentation about the “housing first” approach, which aims to rapidly alleviate the issues of chronic homelessness through permanent housing. The session also will include a panel discussion involving local service providers.

Drapa’s colleague Kelly Opot, senior program manager at CSH, will lead a session on community collaboration in addressing homelessness.

Dr. Ruth Morgan, a provider at Haven for Hope, will speak about the impact of health care on homelessness and the need to integrate health care into homelessness policy.

Three different track sessions involving innovation will focus on green affordable housing, sustainable design, and saving energy through real-time energy monitoring for residential projects.

A fifth track of sessions will explore the concept of “neighborhoods of opportunity,” a collaboration between housing providers and educational institutions, and how the SA Tomorrow and VIA Vision 2040 plans affect future development goals. The latter is the long-range comprehensive plan for VIA Metropolitan Transit.

“I’m excited about the opportunities,” Taylor said. “It’s putting the housing market in proper perspective.”

The final track of breakout sessions will end at 4:15 p.m. A reception and social hour will follow at 4:30 p.m. and benefit the San Antonio Housing Authority’s (SAHA) Education Investment Foundation.

A neighborhood open house will take place from 6-7:30 p.m. and provide a chance for people who weren’t able to attend throughout the day to catch up through a summary of sessions and presentations.

Top image: The first annual San Antonio Housing Summit. Photo courtesy of Ivy Taylor’s Facebook page.

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Edmond Ortiz

Edmond Ortiz, a lifelong San Antonian, is a freelance reporter/editor who has worked with the San Antonio Express-News and Prime Time Newspapers.