SF: Prob B – Establishing Affordable Housing Fund

Shall the City establish an Affordable Housing Fund; set aside from the property tax 2 ½ cents for every $100 of assessed value for this Fund through 2024; and use this Fund, subject to public review, to acquire and develop new affordable housing units meeting certain priorities and income limitations?

Proposition B sounds like someone watched Office Space once too many times. In the movie, three disgruntled office workers concoct a plan to transfer half a cent from the company’s internal bank transactions to a private bank account. They ended up with a huge sum of money. Worried about getting caught, they try to return the money to the company only to find the place burned to the ground. The money was assumed to have burned in the fire; but, another employee had found the packet and flew to a tropical island for some R&R.

The City already sets aside:

  • 2 ½ cents for the Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund;
  • 3 cents for the Children’s Fund; and
  • 2 ½ cents for the Library Preservation Fund.

Proposition B will add another 2 ½ cents on top of those three to go towards an Affordable Housing Fund. I understand that affordable housing is needed for those who otherwise cannot afford to get a place for themselves; but, why must the funds come from the coffers of the middle class once again? It seems to me that San Francisco is becoming much like the rest of the nation which focuses either on the poor or the rich while those in the middle bail out both sides.

I feel the private sector already does enough to build affordable housing. In the last election, there was proposition to renovate the Hunters Point/Candlestick Park area which required the construction of hundreds of affordable housing units. These units aren’t costing the City a dime.

The money from the property tax should be left for general purpose use. The City is already in a bind in terms of a budget deficit. We don’t need to earmark two billion over fifteen years to a fund that has no accountability. What I am saying is we need to reign in our free-wheeling spending ways; acquire a little fiscal responsibility.

The legal text of the proposition talks about using the funds to provide rent subsidies and helping first time home owners buy a home which sounds quite familiar. I believe our current economic downturn was sparked by people purchasing homes they could not afford on their current and future salaries.

Also, this bit of text would be stricken from the legal text: “All members of the public will have the opportunity to attend the hearing and make comments.” The Mayor Office of Housing which oversees the fund’s budget will present their case at a public hearing. The budget will affect the very people that they do not want to hear opinions from. Lack of accountability.

I will be voting no on Proposition B.

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