County earmarks $25M for affordable housing fund

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SAN DIEGO — The Board of Supervisors Monday unanimously approved a series of steps designed to address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing in San Diego County.

The county plans include creation of a $25 million affordable housing investment pool.

Supervisor Ron Roberts said the San Diego region “is in the middle of a major housing crisis.”

“We live in a time where housing needs have outgrown our ability to meet demand,” Roberts said. “Not just affordable housing — the county and all 18 cities are not building anywhere near the amount of housing that is needed.”

He criticized housing units being used exclusively for vacation rentals and listed “skyrocketing rents” among one of the main issues.

“There’s something fundamentally wrong,” Roberts said. “Going forward when it comes to affordable housing and homelessness, we need to think differently.”

He said the creation of the $25 million fund would allow the county to directly invest in affordable housing, but acknowledged that total wasn’t enough unless the county uses it to partner with the private sector. The money will come from unallocated reserves.

Supervisor Dianne Jacob said establishment of the fund is a big step forward.

“The fund is an investment in San Diego’s future,” Jacob said. “It’s a dynamic effort to enable those who are struggling toward realizing the American dream.”

The steps approved by the supervisors also included transferring $500,000 from Roberts’ neighborhood reinvestment account to the county Health and Human Services Agency to underwrite pre-development and planning activities for affordable housing, and identifying 11 county-owned properties to be used for residential construction.

A countywide tally of the homeless in January found an increase of 5 percent from last year to 9,116. Of those, 5,621 were unsheltered.