Talking up affordable housing, city pushes more San Antonio debt

San Antonio’s daylong “Housing Summit,” built on a mountain of government clichés and hubris, ended without one mention of free-market competition.

We Say:
  • Kudos to Kenric Ward of (Texas Bureau) for this outstanding exposé of Mayor Taylor’s aggressive push of government control of “affordable housing” as recently unveiled in her September 30 Housing Summit.  Real journalism as it was meant to be!
  • Free market competition is not part of the city’s “master plan.” Rather, crony capitalism is the means to achieve the ends.

This four-part series is republished from, by Kenric Ward. Featured image credit: San Antonio Housing Authority photo

Talking up affordable housing, city pushes more debt


PEAK HOUSING: San Antonio’s master plan calls for City Hall to “assist the private market in adequately addressing housing needs.” | AP photo

By Kenric Ward  /   October 5, 2016

Part 1 of 4 in the series Affordable housing

Calling for more residential “infrastructure,” affordable-housing advocates are pushing to extend government control of real estate in one of America’s fastest-growing cities.

A down payment is $20 million in San Antonio’s upcoming bond package. Proceeds would go toward purchasing and redeveloping properties with the public debt. While aimed at commercial blight, “Operation Facelift” has residential implications.

“We’re changing the way of doing business by bringing in new partners,” Mayor Ivy Taylor announced at her “Housing Summit” last week.

Taylor did not name names, but her housing model points north to Austin, which has floated $120 million in bonds to leverage private investment in “affordable housing.”

CLICK HERE to read the full article (Part 1)…

Want more affordable housing? Try code reform, not crony capitalism

By   /  October 6, 2016 

Part 2 of 4 in the series Affordable housing

The San Antonio Housing Commission says the city needs 153,000 more “affordable” and “workforce” housing units. To produce them, the panel is weighing a host of tailored regulations – some of them ripe for cronyism.

The year-old commission, which includes local developers, calculated the reputed shortage by stretching the “lower income” category to 120 percent of the city’s median income level.

By the commission’s definition, that means households earning $61,000 need affordable housing. San Antonio’s “affordable” price points, according to the commission, are homes up to $150,000 and two-bedroom apartment rents starting at $700.Though the Housing Commission has no authority to set policy or implement programs, it was established by the City Council to make recommendations. Those include:

  • Improve the zoning notification process.
  • Waive additional fees for construction of affordable housing.
  • Pursue an affordable housing bond.

CLICK HERE to read the full article (Part 2)…

Free market invisible at San Antonio Housing Summit

By   /  October 11, 2016

Part 3 of 4 in the series Affordable housing

San Antonio’s daylong “Housing Summit,” built on a mountain of government clichés and hubris, ended without one mention of free-market competition.

Dozens of presentations—covering “Homelessness,” “Financing and Funding,” “Policies, Protection and Planning” and the like – presupposed that government plays a leading role in creating an “affordable” housing market.

It is the ultimate trickle-down exercise in which taxpayer funds and public benefits are redistributed to chosen developers while making the product less affordable for all.

The pump is primed by increasing public debt: a proposed $20 million “neighborhood improvements” bond (buried in a record $850 million public-improvement bond). Down the line, special tax breaks are earmarked for unidentified “partners” to build affordable housing.

CLICK HERE to read the full article (Part 3)…

San Antonio homes in on $250K Portland consultant

By Kenric Ward  /  October 10, 2016


MOVER AND SHAKER: John Fregonese has consulted on transit-oriented development along light-rail lines, a controversial concept in San Antonio. | photo

Part 4 of 4 in the series Affordable housing

Embarking on municipal housing initiatives, San Antonio officials are purchasing advice from an Oregon consultant promoting new waves of dense development, with a random racial rant tossed in.“The 1950s were overtly racist and sexist,” John Fregonese declared at Mayor Ivy Taylor’s “Housing Summit” this month. “The population is different today.”

San Antonio, a centuries-old home to a largely Hispanic population, is America’s seventh-biggest city. Aggressive municipal annexations have helped make it one of the fastest growing metro regions in the U.S.

Despite San Antonio’s size and Southwestern sensibilities, City Council members went to Portland to enlist Fregonese. Retained at a cost of $250,000, the planner’s consultancy agreement runs through next May.

The city has the “sole option to extend to Nov. 21, 2017, if it deems necessary,” at an unspecified cost.


CLICK HERE to read the full article (Part 4)…


Kenric Ward is the San Antonio-based reporter for A California native and veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers, he received a BA from UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Sun before joining in 2012 and previously reported from Virginia. Kenric can be reached at

This four-part series is republished from

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One Response to "Talking up affordable housing, city pushes more San Antonio debt"

  1. Bobbie Mueller  October 11, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Crony capitalism, and a tad communism?. Spreading other peoples wealth to level the playing field?

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