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San Antonio Awarded National Grant to Craft Displacement Prevention Policy 

click to enlarge Government Hill is one of the fastest-changing neighborhoods in the downtown area. - PHOTO BY V. FINSTER / HERON CONTRIBUTOR
  • Photo by V. Finster / Heron contributor
  • Government Hill is one of the fastest-changing neighborhoods in the downtown area.
Grounded Solutions Network, an affordable housing advocacy nonprofit based in Oakland, Calif., has awarded San Antonio a $150,000 grant for the development of an anti-displacement strategy.

The ForEveryoneHome grant is funded through the Ford Foundation. Under the agreement that was approved by the City Council on Thursday, the city will pay Grounded Solutions Network $75,000 as a participation fee.

Indianapolis and Winston-Salem, N.C., were the other two cities selected.

The city’s Neighborhood and Housing Services Department (NHSD) had allocated $200,000 to $250,000 to hire an outside consultant to craft such a plan.

Grounded Solutions Network staff and local city and community representatives will conduct a needs assessment study, and attempt to identify the causes of displacement, who is being displaced, with a focus on communities of color in San Antonio, according to documents attached to the council’s meeting agenda.

From there, they’ll create a “displacement agenda” as a policy framework. Community meetings will be scheduled between June and September, according to the agreement, which is the same timeframe Grounded Solutions Network will conduct the study.

When asked if the “anti-displacement” will include a check against large-scale development, Ian Benavidez, NHSD’s affordable housing administrator, said NHSD doesn’t have specific strategies and are looking at “all options” in “conjunction with the community.”

NHSD selected seven people to represent San Antonio on the team to develop the policy alongside Grounded Solutions Network: Veronica Soto, director of NHSD; Lourdes Castro Ramirez, president of the University Health System Foundation and chair of the Housing Commission; Jessica Guerrero, board member of the Vecinos de Mission Trails advocacy group and a board member of the Housing Commission; Tuesdae Knight, president and CEO of San Antonio Growth on the Eastside (SAGE); Richard Milk, director of policy and planning with the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA); Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center; and Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who serves as an “honorary” team member.

Grounded Solutions Network is now reviewing the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task Force report, the National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders’ vulnerable community study and the University of Texas at Austin’s report on displacement in Austin to understand San Antonio’s housing issues, according to Benavidez.

Benavidez said the city could have developed the “anti-displacement” policy without the grant via its initial plan to hire an outside consultant, but that Grounded Solutions Network would bring national expertise to the city’s housing issues and reduce cost.

The San Antonio team will visit Indianapolis and Winston-Salem, with Grounded Solutions Network covering travel costs, between June and next March, according to the agreement, to see how their teams are addressing displacement in those cities. Indianapolis and Winston-Salem’s teams will visit San Antonio within the same timeframe.

The San Antonio Heron is a nonprofit news organization dedicated to informing its readers about the changes to downtown and the surrounding communities.

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