DEVELOPMENT POLICY

Policy Title: Affordable Housing Preservation and Expansion
Effective Date: May 13, 2011

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I. Statement of Purpose

Guiding Principles
SAHA recognizes the significant unmet need for quality housing affordable to lower income individuals and families in San Antonio. We believe housing can be a catalyst for economic development and community vibrancy. As a result, we will: 

  • Work actively to preserve and expand quality affordable housing to fill this need
  • Pursue rehabilitation, acquisition, new construction, or asset repositioning projects that address unmet community need
  • Do all we can to assist residents in making socio-economic progress so their families can transition from government support and ultimately sustain themselves
  • Help catalyze economic development through the creation of financially, socially, and environmentally inclusive communities that are healthy and sustainable
  • Transparently plan and collaborate with residents and other key public, private, and non-profit stakeholders at the local, state and federal level

Targeted Outcomes
The specific qualitative and quantitative outcomes SAHA will target and measure as we work to fill the unmet need for quality housing affordable to lower income individuals and families in San Antonio are:

  • Add high quality, sustainable, and affordable housing to San Antonio
  • Improve the quality of existing housing and enhance its’ useful life
  • Achieve a distribution of mixed-income communities throughout San Antonio
  • Realize significant positive socio-economic impact on our residents and communities

Key Affordable Housing Preservation and Expansion Strategies
SAHA will pursue 4 key strategies – Preserve, Revitalize, Expand, and Place Based Initiatives (P.R.E.P.) – to achieve the above described policy outcomes. These 4 strategies will include the following sub-strategies:

  • Preserve Housing Stock
    • Meet housing and property quality standards (REAC, TDHCA, HQS)
    • Prioritize comprehensive modernization or substantial rehabilitation projects
    • Liquidate assets to preserve or enhance affordable housing
  • Revitalize Communities
    • Redevelop public housing into mixed-income and service-enriched communities
    • Develop community revitalization plans with stakeholders
  • Expand Affordable Housing
    • Expand the supply of affordable housing units
    • Acquire housing projects or land for affordable housing/mixed-income
  • Place Based Initiatives
    • Carry-out resident socio-economic development and economic development activities
    • Provide supportive housing for special populations

II. Definitions:

Place Based Initiatives - Place-based policies leverage investments by focusing resources in targeted places and drawing on the compounding effect of well-coordinated action. Effective place-based policies can influence how rural and metropolitan areas develop, how well they function as places to live, work, operate a business, preserve heritage, and more

  • REAC - Real Estate Assessment Center
  • TDHCA - Texas department of housing and community affairs
  • HQS – HUD Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program regulations set forth basic housing quality standards (HQS) which all units must meet before assistance can be paid on behalf of a family and at least annually throughout the term of the assisted tenancy. HQS define "standard housing" and establish the minimum criteria for the health and safety of program participants.
  • BOC – SAHA Board of Commissioners
  • DNR – SAHA Development and Neighborhood Revitalization team
  • Section 3 – A means by which HUD fosters local economic development, neighborhood economic improvement, and individual self-sufficiency. Section 3 is the legal basis for providing jobs for residents and awarding contracts to businesses in areas receiving certain types of HUD financial assistance. 

Under Section 3 of the HUD Act of 1968, wherever HUD financial assistance is expended for housing or community development, to the greatest extent feasible, economic opportunities will be given to Section 3 residents and businesses in that area.

III. Affordable Housing Preservation and Expansion Policy

All SAHA affordable housing preservation and expansion activities must be consistent with the guiding principles, targeted outcomes, and strategies articulated in the ‘Statement of Purpose’ section of this policy document. In addition, such activities must comply with key policies described below by topic: 

Project Need
SAHA recognizes the significant unmet need for quality housing affordable to lower income individuals and families in San Antonio. SAHA is primarily focused on addressing this unmet need that is not being adequately addressed by the private market and where therefore a government subsidy is needed.

  • SAHA will lead (by building or acquiring) or support projects (for capital generation) which fulfill a community need for affordable housing
  • Community need must be determined and documented based on objective market analysis which includes SAHA’s waiting lists information 

Project Location Selection
Recognizing that the location of an affordable housing preservation or expansion project can be a major driver of the long term success of the project and the socio economic opportunities and challenges available to residents, SAHA will:

  • Pursue acquisition and/or partnership opportunities synergistic with other community initiatives
  • Focus on a project’s accessibility to education, job training, employment opportunities, and location amenities (e.g., recreation, health, retail, spiritual)
  • Pursue development projects linked to transportation and employment opportunities

Housing Development and Redevelopment
SAHA is committed to redeveloping existing housing projects as well as developing new projects consistent with the following:

  • We will develop mixed income communities that are healthy and encourage socio-economic integration
  • At least 20 percent of the units shall be affordable for community members earning below 30% area median income
  • SAHA will replace all removed public housing units with a unit or housing choice voucher affordable at an equivalent level. Replacement units may be located at other sites.
  • We will focus primarily on creating family units and supportive housing for special needs populations.

Building Design, Standards, and Compliance
SAHA is a property manager, owner, and/or developer with a long term community focused mission. Understanding that government building codes, and developer or sub-contractor building and construction standards may be lacking or inadequate given this long term property management and maintenance perspective:

  • SAHA will develop its own construction and materials standards to achieve long term and cost efficient management, and maintenance of our communities
  • All development and redevelopment projects must build to SAHA’s construction and materials standards and “Build San Antonio Green level 2” 
  • Development design must incorporate sustainable concepts and practices
  • All developments will adopt a smoke-free policy

Invest to preserve and extend the useful life of properties
Given the wide gap between community need and actual affordable housing supply, SAHA will focus on investing prudently to both preserve and extend the useful life of its properties. As a result,

  • Property improvements should ensure housing quality, livability standards, and enhance marketability
  • SAHA will be proactive in comprehensive rehabilitation planning and implementation (e.g., total building vs. system by system approach)

Long Term Financial and Planning Considerations
SAHA will be proactive in developing and implementing a realistic long term financial plan for each project so that San Antonio’s affordable housing stock is maximized.

  • All new development, redevelopment, refinancing, acquisition, and liquidation projects and pro-forma must include an analysis and/or plan for maintenance, replacement, compliance, and funding
    • All projects must include a realistic long term financial projection including the construction period, lease out period, and post-compliance period.  Rent and lease out/vacancy assumptions must incorporate an analysis of competing current and planned projects in the neighborhood
    • SAHA will develop its own underwriting criteria and standard management and operating agreements 
    • All projects must meet SAHA’s general underwriting criteria and standard agreements
  • SAHA will value the economic contribution of its tax exempt status and negotiate project economics commensurate with this value contribution
  • Assets which are not performing well or land without significant development potential will be considered for liquidation
  • Revenues generated from these activities will be reinvested into preserving or expanding affordable housing

Integrated approach to socio-economic development
In order to support resident and community socio-economic development, we will:

  • Focus on developing properties where key amenities are accessible e.g., schools, banking, grocery shopping, employers, and public transportation
  • Maximize Section 3 resident employment opportunities, both short term and long term
  • Increase business activities with small, minority owned, local, and women owned businesses
  • Utilize SAHA’s ‘Moving to Work’ designation to expand housing options and create economic opportunities so residents can achieve economic self sufficiency
  • Partner with residents as well as public, non-profit, and for-profit organizations to provide educational resources, job training, and supportive services to help families become economically stable
  • Work together with economic development organizations to realize emerging economic development opportunities by creating mixed use and mixed income communities  

Planning with Residents and Community Stakeholders
Residents and community members must be offered the opportunity to contribute meaningfully in  advance of the design of any planned projects and their input shall be incorporated.

IV. Implementation and Monitoring

This policy shall be followed for each eligible affordable housing preservation and expansion initiative or transaction SAHA undertakes.

Policy compliance is the primary responsibility of the DNR team, but is also the responsibility of the following SAHA teams: Section 8, property management, finance, and Community Development. A policy exception must be requested by staff and granted by the BOC in all relevant cases.

Finally, staff will develop a policy implementation work plan and detailed guidelines to implement this policy. Staff will regularly evaluate and update the aforementioned work plan and guidelines.