excerpt from Santa Fe New Mexican, ‘My View’ – 7.18.20
The Santa Fe City Council and the mayor recently voted to amend a 1998 ordinance restricting the entrance to a property on Calle La Resolana to emergency vehicles. The amendment was the last hurdle for the Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority to build a two-story, 45-unit, income-restricted affordable apartment community at 1115 Calle La Resolana that had already been approved by the Planning Commission.
However, as has long come to be Santa Fe tradition from neighbors of future affordable housing developments, a concerted and vocal effort worked to put a stop to the Calle La Resolana project. Opponents loudly decried the latest housing project and cited traffic and safety as major concerns that should prohibit the development.
Santa Fe has long suffered from a widely acknowledged affordable housing problem, which in recent years has become a full-blown crisis. The most recent census data (2018) tells us that more than 6,000 families in Santa Fe were paying unaffordable rent, a staggering 86 percent of families earning $50,000 a year or less. And that was before the pandemic. Over the next six months, we’re likely to see the most alarming housing crisis in our lifetimes with as many as 29 million households at risk for eviction.
These facts are hard to ignore. Every elected leader in Santa Fe has claimed to support affordable housing on the path to being elected. However, as is so often the case, the known fact that we have thousands of struggling families becomes less of a priority when a few loud neighborhood voices speak out.
Tired issues of concern predictably surface (neighborhood character, crime, traffic and general neighborhood density are the usual suspects). They become a rallying point for those who acknowledge and express “concern” about the housing crisis during development discussions.
At the end of the day, opponents of housing developments in their neighborhoods typically worry more about property values and geographic demarcations of class than addressing a crisis that doesn’t impact them. These “concerns” become dangerous and reinforce systemic inequity when elected leaders give them credence.