On Thursday, January 7 @ 2:00 PM the San Antonio City Council’s Culture and Neighborhood Services Committee meeting will consider recommendations on the creation of a residential Renters Commission.
Listed below are the two options under the city’s consideration.
City staff recommendations:
Option One: Expand the Housing Commission with Renter-focused sub-committee
Recommend Council expand the existing Housing Commission rather than establish a new Commission. The Housing Commission is currently a nine-member citizen advisory board made up of 5 at-large positions and 4 ex-officio positions for the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA), San Antonio Housing Trust (SAHT), VIA Metropolitan Transit, and the Economic Development Foundation.
An expanded Housing Commission could include an appointee from each council district, a mayoral appointee, and the four existing ex-officio positions. Districts that are currently unrepresented by the 9-member Commission could add their appointees immediately. Other appointees could be added as the terms of current at-large commissioners expire. This would create a Commission that is 15 members in total. Staff recommends that appointees reflect community desires for both renters and property managers from diverse housing types.
The Commission could also establish a sub-committee to work specifically on renters’ issues that may require more targeted and frequent meetings. The sub-committee could include up to 7 members of the newly expanded Commission and 2-4 non-Commission members that represent renters, property owners, and/or property managers.
Option Two: Establish a stand-alone Renters’ Commission
The Committee could consider establishing a stand-alone Renter’s Commission that would advise the Housing Commission, Council, and Mayor. This Commission would include a mix of renters and landlords and would be staffed by NHSD. Each council district and the Mayor would appoint a member. Meetings would be held monthly. Recommendations from this Commission would go to the Housing Commission before going to Council.
This Commission could be as many as 15 members including but not limited to;
- Six Renters. Appointees should have experience in at least one of the following housing situations: using a voucher, renting from a large multi-family property, a small multi-family property, asingle family home, a housing authority property, or a mobile living community. ·
- Four Property Owners/Mangersincluding;
o 1 small complex landlord
o 1 large complex landlord
o 1 landlord of a mobile living community
o Owner of single-family rental properties
- Three Housing Service Organization representatives
o 1 representative from an organization providing emergency rental/relocation assistance
o 1 representative from an organization on-site supportive housing services
o 1 representative from legal services organization working to assist residents facing eviction
- Two Housing Advocacy Organizations
o 1 representative from a local renters’ advocacy group such as Texas Housers
o 1 representative from a trade association for landlords such as the San Antonio Apartment Association
Option one presents a more reasonable compromise and is something SABOR recommended as an idea when the Renters Commission proposal first was brought about months ago. This option would increase renters’ participation in the existing commission charged with implementing the City’s Housing Policy Framework which seeks to address issues for all renters and homeowners in the City.
While option 2 provides landlord/property owner representation and would be folded under the existing Housing Commission, the idea of this structure is not consistent with the Renters Commission SA Speak Up Survey results which had over 3,600 responses with nearly 70% of respondents preferring an equal balance of renters, property owners, and property managers.
A secondary proposal not listed as a city staff recommendation is an intriguing alternative in lieu of option 2. This third option would provide equitable council representation across the board with equal slots for landlords and tenants and create an environment for real dialogue and solutions.
Third Option – SABOR/SAAA/RECSA/NARPM – Proposed Option
- A Rental Advisory Committee that reports to the Housing Commission named Rental Housing Advisory Committee, and made up of the following:
- 11 Renters (appointed by individual council members)
- 11 Owners/Landlords/Managers/Developers (recommended by SAAA, SABOR, RECSA and/or NARPM-SAMAC)
- 1 Member of the Housing Commission (who would serve as this committee’s chair)
- Ex-officio: 1 Attorney representing renters (recommended by Tenants & Advocacy groups who represent Renters, and are approved by the Culture & Neighborhood Services Committee)
- Ex-officio: 1 Attorney representing owners/rental housing providers (recommended by SAAA, SABOR, RECSA and/or NARPM-SAMAC)
PUBLIC COMMENT FOR THURSDAY
We encourage members to call into the virtual meeting or leave a written comment in support of Option 1 by increasing renters’ participation in the existing commission OR Option 3 to make a stand-alone Renters Commission and have it be an even split of Renters and Landlords/property owners/property managers. SABOR is in opposition to Option 2.
Property Owners and Managers should share their personal testimonies as they continue to work with their tenants to keep residents housed during the pandemic.
Virtual Culture and Neighborhood Services Committee on January 7, 2021, @ 2:00 PM CST
The meeting will be available to the public at AT&T channel 99, Grande channel 20, Spectrum channel 21, digital antenna 16, and www.sanantonio.gov/TVSA. The meeting will also be available by calling (210) 207-5555 (English and Spanish available) and on the City of San Antonio’s Facebook page.
Members of the public can comment or speak on items on the agenda. To submit comments or sign up to speak on the proposed Renters Commission item, please click here.
From there you can leave a written comment which will be read aloud during the meeting or create an account to sign in to speak during the actual meeting during the Public Comment period on the item. Please note by registering to speak, you agree to be present during the meeting time. You will be called to speak by your name.
***Closes for Public Comment at the start of the meeting on January 07, 2021, at 2:00 PM CST.***
Sample Talking points:
- Instead of creating an entirely new Commission, the City could focus its efforts on bolstering the Housing Commission as a public oversight board and making this body more representative of the Housing population for both renters and homeowners. Adding more renter representation on the Housing Commission will ensure a fair and balanced perspective as it relates to the coordinated housing system in San Antonio.
- Strengthening the Housing Commission will create a layer of public accountability for the City and its partners and ensure that renters not only have a mechanism through which their voices can be heard but that there is a mechanism through which there can be a constructive and meaningful dialogue with the City and its partners.
- Renters Commission should reflect the Symbiotic Nature in Rental Housing – Balanced Renters Commission should be reflective of the current challenges in rental housing in San Antonio. Without these interests included, the commission will not have the whole picture when making decisions about issues related to renting.
- Balanced Commission is Consistent with SA Speak Up Survey – The survey had over 3,600 responses and nearly 70% of respondents preferred a mixture of renters, property owners, and property managers compared to 32% of respondents preferring a renters-only composition.