Jan 17, 2023 - Politics

Alazán Courts among first housing bond projects

A woman helps an older women in a wheelchair sit down at a kitchen table.

Carol Gonzales, left, helps her grandmother Rosa Ybarra, right, settle in at the kitchen table in their first-floor apartment at the Alazán and Apache Courts on the West Side. Photo: Megan Stringer/Axios

When Carol Gonzales thought her home would be demolished, she bought a cart to carry groceries in case she couldn't find a new place close to stores and a bus stop.

  • Gonzales lives with her grandmother Rosa Ybarra, 94, at the Alazán and Apache Courts on the West Side. She was relieved when Alazán, the city's oldest public housing development, escaped the bulldozer.

Driving the news: The housing complex will be renovated with a boost from the city's $150 million housing bond package — approved by voters last May — along with more than a dozen other affordable housing projects.

  • The City Council voted unanimously last month to approve the first batch of projects to benefit from the housing bond. More will follow.
  • Property owners pay about 21 cents per $100 of taxable value to cover the city's debt, which includes the bonds.

Why it matters: Families at the 501-unit Alazán Courts can't afford to live elsewhere. They earned an average of $8,796 a year and paid $131 in monthly rent in 2020, per the Express-News.

  • In Bexar County, 95,000 households are burdened by housing costs, spending more than 30% of their income on it, per the city's housing plan.

Zoom in: Gonzales is the full-time caregiver for Ybarra, who has dementia. She doesn't have time to work another job and is only able to earn part-time wages for her care work from Legacy Home Health Agency.

  • They hope their apartment is more disability-friendly after the renovation.
  • Gonzales also is really looking forward to having a clothes dryer so they don't have to hang clothing outside in the winter.

Context: There were funding gaps for all of the projects set to receive bond dollars, Veronica Garcia, director of the city's housing department, told the council. The developments might otherwise struggle to break ground.

By the numbers: 14 projects are slated to collect nearly $44 million between the housing bond and federal contributions.

  • The expansion and renovation of Alazán Courts will receive the most from the housing bond's first round: $8.2 million. It will cost $24.3 million to redevelop, per city records.
  • A total of 2,532 units of housing, both homes and rentals, will be constructed or renovated across the 14 projects.

What they're saying: Graciela Sanchez, affordable housing advocate and director of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, is glad to see the money make its way into the community. But she's still pushing for more investment.

  • "This says a lot for San Antonio," Sanchez tells Axios. "For all the problems I have with the housing bond, the fact that new public housing is going to be built is contrary to where the rest of the country has been going for the last 30 to 40 years."

What’s next: Included in the housing bond is $25 million to house people exiting homelessness and provide on-site services like mental health counseling.

  • The first proposals are due this month. The City Council could consider projects in April.

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