There are many fighting for affordable housing

March 31, 2019

Suddenly, it seems everyone is wringing their hands over the dire shortage of housing in Santa Fe.

It’s most severely felt at the lower end of the income scale, but even high-end Realtors are lamenting the shocking lack of inventory at all price levels. Now, because it’s apparently affecting everyone, we’re going to get serious about the issue.

The reality is that this is housing shortage redux. Many of the local baby boomers remember the first panic 25 years ago when the Affordable Housing Roundtable formed to strategize how the Tierra Contenta subdivision could answer the problem. And to a large extent, it did.

Until it didn’t, which is now.

Future columns will explore how Tierra Contenta still offers a degree of salvation to our current shortage and how we as a community can help influence its next phase of master planning, but in the meantime, it’s important to recognize many of those from a generation ago who are still among us pushing the paradigm as hard as we ever have.

The good news is that many who were 30-somethings back in the day, and obviously no longer are, are being supplanted by many new 30-something voices who demand to know where the affordable housing can be found. Former Planning Commission Chairman Vince Kadlubek, the driving force behind the Meow Wolf collective, is a huge social media influencer who never misses a chance to push the more-housing-now argument. His fans and supporters are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with and are likely to soon overwhelm the old neighborhood NIMBY voices.

Slightly older but equally incensed are the MIX generation of housing activists, including Daniel Werwath, Zane Fischer and Kate Noble. As young as they may seem to us boomers, in fact they have been blowing the horn on the issue for well over 15 years. They join a number of voices who have never stopped trying to keep the issue in front of our governing bodies.

The dean of affordable housing issues for sure is Joseph Montoya, back with Santa Fe County after many years at the state’s Mortgage Finance Authority — the entity that supports so much of what gets accomplished in affordable housing. Mike Loftin, the genius behind Homewise and most of our city’s affordable housing ordinances over the years, is still very much in the game, including recently chairing the mayor’s affordable housing task force, along with The Life Link’s Carol Luna-Anderson.

Alexandra Ladd, director of affordable housing for the city, labors with calm determination with a miniscule staff and even smaller budget. The Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce’s Simon Brackley, Donna Reynolds of the Santa Fe Realtors Association and all the entities that joined forces under the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition are beginning to move the proverbial needle.

Those mentioned above — and many more — have plenty of perspective on the issue. Our community owes them a debt of gratitude because without them, our affordable housing crisis would be much worse than it is.

Kim Shanahan is a longtime Santa Fe builder and former executive officer of the Santa Fe Area Home Builders Association.