Policy & Advocacy
CEI has been a leader in the affordable housing movement for decades, using technical expertise gleaned from our experience with housing development and finance to shape policy at the national, state, and local levels. CEI staff are frequently consulted by policymakers and provide testimony on legislation, serve on advisory bodies, serve on boards of directors of advocacy organizations, and provide technical support to varied affordable housing policy efforts.
Kevin Knudtson is a member of the board of directors of California Coalition for Rural Housing and a former board member of Nonprofit Housing Association of Northern California. Elissa Dennis is a board member of Housing California. She previously served on the board of East Bay Housing Organizations, and remains very active in EBHO, particularly on Oakland advocacy efforts.
CEI consistently provides informal feedback and formal comment letters as well as serving on ad hoc advisory bodies for funding agencies such as the State Housing and Community Development department and the Tax Credit Allocation Committee on program regulations, for example on TCAC’s tax credit regulations; the State’s new Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities and Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention program and Uniform Multifamily Regulations; the Federal Home Loan Bank’s Affordable Housing Program.
Some examples of CEI engagement in policy and advocacy efforts include:
In the late 2000s, the federal tax credit program was faltering as the recession took many investors out of the market. CEI’s former executive director, Joel Rubenzahl, was a leader in the effort to persuade Congress to substitute cash for tax credits for a short time until the market rebounded. Thousands of affordable housing units were built under that temporary program and the respite allowed the tax credit program to recover.
Working with several clients trying to rehabilitate older properties that have loans from old State HCD programs, Kevin Knudtson identified a serious roadblock in HCD regulations prohibiting restructuring of projects, particularly those serving vulnerable extremely low income residents. He led an effort that brought nonprofit developers together with HCD staff and legal advocates for the poor to craft legislation allowing financial restructuring enabling rehabilitation of the properties while protecting tenants. This AB1699 legislation along with its companion bill AB 523, will impact dozens of projects throughout the state in the next few years.
Short Term Rental Report
Community Economics and East Bay Housing Organizations produced a report in 2015 about the impact of Short Term Rentals on the Oakland housing market. The report highlights the more than 1,000 Airbnb listings in the City, many of which are full housing units being held off the rental market while rents skyrocket. We are engaged in a campaign to direct the transient occupancy tax collected from these short term rentals to the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund as well as pursuing other regulations on these tourist accommodations.
Make It Fair Campaign
Community Economics is a member of the Steering Committee for the Make It Fair campaign, an effort to reform the State’s commercial property tax system to eliminate loopholes and generate much-needed revenues. Because property is only reassessed upon sale under the 1978 passage of Prop 13, the State is losing billions of dollars annually from commercial properties that are not paying their fair share.