Habitat CA was launched in 2011 as an HFHI-approved Support Organization (SO) with a sole focus on statewide advocacy for affordable housing. Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley was the fiduciary of the SO until Habitat CA became an official State Support Organization (SSO) on July 1, 2015.
Since 2011, Habitat California has worked with the firm, Platinum Advisors, to advocate and educate the California legislature, as well as develop an advocacy plan on statewide priorities. Most notably, for the past five years, Habitat CA has been an active participant and leader on the coalition of housing advocates in support of the creation of a “permanent source” of statewide funding for affordable housing in CA. Even though these measures never passed both houses of the legislature, they initiated the critical debate over how to create a sustainable funding source to assist (not solve) the housing crisis that remains in California. In addition to the three measures introduced between 2012 and 2016 attempting to create the permanent source (SB 391, SB 1220, AB 1335), we supported other measures aimed to protect and incentivize a local government’s ability to fund affordable housing projects, create inclusionary housing ordinances, and legislative measures which attempted to address a variety of issues that evolved from the elimination of redevelopment agencies in 2011, the elimination of the set-aside for low and moderate income housing and the dissolution process itself.
In 2013, Habitat CA began a legislative effort to create equity for all Habitat homeowners who are already on a very low or fixed income to not only afford their mortgage payment, but their property tax bill as well. SB 499 (Wyland) was originally introduced to address the issue, but it failed to progress through the state Senate. However, in 2015, Habitat CA reintroduced the intent in AB 668 (Gomez). AB 668 creates consistency throughout the state by authorizing the county assessors, when determining the value of a property for tax purposes for affordable homes sold to low-income families, to consider the effect of the recorded contracts and deed restrictions on affordability between the buyer and a nonprofit organization (lender) in the assessment of that land. The bill passed both houses of the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.
In 2014, Habitat CA successfully sponsored AB 1765 (Jones-Sawyer), which added Habitat for Humanity to the charity list that taxpayers can donate to on the CA franchise tax form. This newly established fund provides a funding source directly to Habitat affiliates through grants, and funds are designated for building homes. To date, the fund has raised over $300,000, which will now be allocated through the SSO to affiliates in good standing with both HFHI and Habitat CA.
In 2015, Habitat CA joined a coalition of housing advocates in support of the Assembly Speaker’s affordable housing package. In addition to the flagship measure AB 1335, the third measure introduced in an effort to create a permanent source of funding through real estate recording fees, it included AB 35 (Chiu and Atkins), which expanded the annual rental housing tax credit allocation by $100 million for a five-year period. Even though Habitat for Humanity would not directly benefit from the tax credit allocation, we joined the coalition of housing advocates in support; and AB 35 was passed and signed by Governor Brown.
In 2016, Habitat California sponsored two pieces of legislation. Even though both bills did not make it to the Governor’s desk for action, the introduction of both bills led to a productive discussion on the need to reduce the cost of construction for affordable housing units and create more flexibility for cap-and-trade project eligibility. AB 2518 (Gomez), created a partial exemption from sales and use taxes on the gross receipts from the sale of building and construction supplies, materials, equipment, and machinery by a nonprofit corporation; and AB 2783 (Garcia, Eduardo), would require the Strategic Growth Council to revise the guidelines and selection criteria with respect to density requirement aimed at authorizing more cap-and-trade funds to be appropriated to rural areas.