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In Depth: Measure A offers solution to homeless crisis

$900 million bond measure would build affordable housing
Posted at 8:08 AM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 11:08:17-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A measure on the ballot aims to solve San Diego's homeless and housing crisis by raising property taxes and using the money to build more homes.

Measure A would provide the City with $900 million "for the acquisition or improvement of real property" that would be specifically for "vulnerable populations."

According to the Measure, that includes low-income families making less than 80% of the median income and the homeless or chronically homeless, seniors, veterans, people who are disabled, and young adults who are coming out of the foster system.

"It would build as many as 7,500 homes," says Stephen Russell, the President, and CEO of the San Diego Housing Federation. "The trauma of sleeping on the street is ongoing. We believe the first thing you need to do is give someone a safe, secure place to live."

Russell says the City could leverage that $900 million to bring in an additional $4 billion in state and federal matching funds.

According to the text of Measure A, the money would be paid back over 40 years by gradually raising property taxes. In the first year, homeowners would be taxed an additional $3.14 per $100,000 of value on their home. With the average home value in San Diego at just above $600,000, that means homeowners would pay an extra $19 in property taxes.

But, by the seventh year of the bond, that tax goes up to $20.85 per $100,000 of assessed value or about $125 for the average home.

Over 40 years that means an average homeowner in San Diego would pay an additional $5,000 in property taxes.

"We believe that folks with their empathy, with their sympathy for folks on the streets, are prepared to make that small investment," says Russell.

But opponents of the Measure say it's not the right time to raise taxes, and the money would not solve the issue.

"The people who put Measure A on the ballot are the same people who are responsible for the failed strategies that we've been pursuing for the past decade, that have resulted in a skyrocketing increase in the number of homeless people here in San Diego," says Carl DeMaio, the Chairman of Reform California."

If we really want to deal with homelessness, we have to get to the root cause of homelessness, which is substance abuse and mental illness," he says.

DeMaio also points out that the text of Measure A says it will cost the City $2.1 billion to pay back the bonds over 40 years.

The Measure also establishes a Citizens Oversight Committee to make sure the money is only spent on affordable housing.
Because it's a new tax, it requires a 2/3 vote to pass.