Update – San Francisco Considers Paying The Price For New Public Housing

A modern medium rise building on a busy street, its ground floor a string of shops
North Beach Place photo by Payton Chung is licensed under CC BY 2.0
American Public housing projects are made difficult by federal funding restrictions. The result: mixed income projects, such as North Beach Place in San Francisco, deliver only handfuls of low and no income housing.

A lot of attention following the U.S. elections has been focussed at the national level, where counting continues slowly and painstakingly. Not so in San Francisco, where some of the margins are much larger. Going forward, the City will have some funding to pay for new public housing, thanks to an enhanced tax on big ticket property transactions. Read more about this and other San Francisco results at MISSION LOCAL: Election 2020: What just happened in San Francisco — and what happens next

For the whys and wherefores of San Francisco’s proposed public housing ideas that were tested by referendum, see our pre-election post below.

“The vision is that you can be a working class person who lives in San Francisco and pays a reasonable percentage of your income to rent.”

It’s déjà vu all over again as San Francisco discovers facts known 90 years ago about the benefits of public housing.

The federal government in America, at least just before and probably well after the 2020 elections, remains mired a political era defined by Reagan in the US and Thatcher in the UK. These leaders championed an ever-hopeful but long out of date belief that the superior functioning of a free market will somehow automatically take care of all of a country’s citizens, leaving government and burdensome taxation to shrink.

Private enterprise claims to do anything better — a brash certainty echoed by a legion of government enablers. Just possibly it can, except when it can’t or won’t, which is most of the time. And most of the time that certainly applies to the creation of much needed, truly affordable, public housing. Mixed income housing — smart, new and socially integrated, provides only handfuls of low and no income housing, nowhere near enough to fill an enormous need.

It is something of a pleasure, therefore, to see a civic government considering a tiptoe along a housing path officially long abandoned in America: the construction of new — not just refurbished — public housing.

Read more af KQED: San Francisco Voters to Decide on New Public Housing – and Taxes to Pay for It

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