A few homes on Abe Juarez's street in the Five Points neighborhood.
Older housing in San Antonio's urban core. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

San Antonio has been selected to participate in a new program aiming to help cities develop strategies to address the challenges of housing affordability.

City officials will participate in the Local Housing Solutions Institute, a five-day program of seminars and consultation on finding policy solutions to mitigate rising housing costs and affordability issues. Also selected for the program, which will be held in September in Montana, were Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia.

The four cities were selected from among 20 proposals developed from cities and counties across the country. San Antonio’s proposal centered on the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force, which spent a year formulating recommendations that were adopted by City Council in September 2018. They include developing a coordinated housing system, increasing the City’s investment in housing, and increasing affordable housing production, rehabilitation, and preservation.

The City’s fiscal year 2019 budget includes $25 million for housing initiatives and is the first budget to emphasize housing needs.

“I am happy to see the work of the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force receive this well-earned recognition,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement. “San Antonio’s selection as a participant in the inaugural cohort for the Local Housing Solutions Institute program is another avenue to ensure that the task force’s recommendations are implemented in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

Each city selected for the institute will receive feedback on its current housing strategies from Local Housing Solutions staff and their peers in other cities, according to a news release.

“This honor is the result of ongoing collaboration between the City’s Neighborhood Housing Services Department, the San Antonio Housing Authority, and San Antonio Housing Commission Chair Lourdes Castro Ramírez,” said Nirenberg, who was part of San Antonio’s applicant team.

The selection of the four cities was made by the NYU Furman Center and Abt Associates, whose staff will lead the September program.

“While each of these cities has made strides to tackle housing affordability, this Institute will accelerate the process of refining their housing strategies and help strengthen bonds among the participants critical for success,” stated Mark A. Willis, senior policy fellow at the NYU Furman Center, in a news release. “We look forward to collaborating with these cities as they develop, organize, track, execute, and evaluate their plans and objectives.”

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Laura Morales

Laura Morales is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a contributor to The Daily Texan.