Tackling San Antonio’s Housing Crisis: Start with Code Enforcement

It’s hard at first glance to fathom that some of the city’s aging and run-down apartment complexes can be so attractive and profitable to out-of-town investors.

How can properties with units plagued by leaking plumbing, contaminated with mold and rendered uninhabitable by broken air conditioners offer such a beautiful return on investment? The formula, it seems, calls for fucking tenants in a city where local authorities seem slow to respond to such practices.

Journalism at its best allows one journalist to make a real difference. Accounts published by San Antonio Report reporter Waylon Cunningham of San Antonio’s so-called Class C real estate sector, its ever-changing cast of miserly landlords, and the long trail of largely ignored tenant complaints of negligence, maintenance deferred and seemingly indifferent enforcement of the code should be required reading.

David Shippy, CEO of Shippy Properties

The fastest growing entity in the city, according to real estate data cited by Cunningham, is Shippy Properties, an Austin-based property management company that now has more than 4,000 units in San Antonio. The stated strategy of David Shippy, the founder and CEO of the company who wrote a book in 2019 touting his methods of enrichment, is to buy apartment complexes for the working class, reduce maintenance costs and charge additional fees to tenants.

“I like to think of every apartment complex as an ATM,” Shippy wrote in his book. Money Matters for Financial Freedom: The Fast Track to Abundance in Life and Business.

For every new apartment built and ready to be rented in San Antonio in 2021, nearly three new rental leases were signed. Just over 4,000 units were built, but just over 11,500 units were newly leased.

According to a December report from CoStar, a real estate analytics firm, about 1 in 7 apartments in San Antonio were swapped last year, a higher share than any city in the state and any other. any city in the country except Atlanta. These transactions were worth a total of $3.6 billion in 2021, marking a near doubling of transaction volume for 2019, before the pandemic.

Shippy’s crude corporate philosophy will come as no surprise to residents of one of San Antonio’s many ramshackle apartment complexes, but to those elected to lead this city, where a housing shortage has driven up rents and demand exceed supply, thus making the game of hands. of unscrupulous landlords, there is an urgent need to address the unacceptable living conditions that have only worsened during the pandemic.

An obvious answer is that city officials are significantly beefing up their team of building inspectors, with the goal of using persistent code enforcement and monetary fines to compel homeowners to obey city ordinances and provide adequate housing for tenants. Once these fines begin to reduce profits, otherwise indifferent owners will respond.

Currently, city staff are relying on 311 telephone complaints from tenants to trigger a response. It should not be left to individuals to alert the city to the unacceptable practices of investors motivated solely by profit. City inspectors, backed by City Manager Erik Walsh who, in turn, should be vigorously backed by Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council, should take the initiative and impress upon offending landlords that inadequate housing practices will no longer be tolerated.

Even now, some tenants have been forced to relocate to local motels while the apartment owners in question escape the serious consequences of their unacceptable practices.

Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7) recently visited the infamous Seven Oaks apartment complex, one of those substandard apartment complexes in northwest San Antonio, to gain a first-hand understanding of living conditions. life that no family should have to endure. She also met displaced tenants at a nearby Motel 6.

Apartment management representing Austin-based owner Achieve Properties responded by unsuccessfully attempting to have San Antonio report photo editor Scott Ball’s vehicle towed to prevent him from taking photos .

After her visit, Sandoval called on the city’s other elected leaders to act on the deplorable conditions she found in Seven Oaks. One can only hope for a strong and lasting response from the mayor and other members of the city council.

About Gloria Turner

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