Written by Sid Lakireddy

Just like that, half of 2020 is behind us and we are quickly inching toward the day we defeat Michael Weinstein’s rent control ballot initiative for a second time. I have said this before and I will say it again, we need all CalRHA members to stay involved before it’s too late. It’s not enough to expect that voters will turn it down like they did in 2018 and it’s not enough to fully rely on lobbyists to do all the work for us. It’s up to us to make this happen. Although we have the best lobbying team working diligently on your behalf to ensure our opinions are being heard with legislators on proposed policy, a ballot initiative is different.

To stop Weinstein, we need all hands-on deck. We will continue to build our online presence and host virtual events as the economy slowly reopens. With the ongoing health crisis and recommendations from health officials to stay inside, CalRHA hosted a webinar to keep members updated on the state housing policy and budget.

The webinar was led by Capitol Advocacy, one of the top leading lobbyist groups in California. Small rental housing providers throughout the state joined the webinar to discuss top priority legislation CalRHA is focused on and on-going negotiations with the legislature. We also discussed how COVID-19 is impacting the budget, and how Weinstein’s ballot initiative and the split roll initiative would inflict major harm to our industry if passed.

A major shift has taken place with the arrival of COVID-19. Now, more so than before, the narrative of housing has shifted more toward renters’ needs so much so that we are focused on highlighting compelling stories and illustrate the impact this all has on rental property owners.

After pushing for financial assistance for renters suffering from the impacts of COVID-19 for months in the media and at the Capitol, State Senate leaders introduced a comprehensive plan that include a state renter assistance program (SB 1410) and ways to increase the housing stock. SB 1410 would authorize property owners to participate in the program, and would pay them 80% of the amount of rent owed. If the property owner agrees to participate in the program they would not be allowed to demand the lost 20% from the tenant. In a series of five bills, the plan also presents a bill that ends mortgage interest for second homes, a cap on development impact fees, and CEQA relief for affordable and homeless housing. In the best interest of our members, CalRHA and its lobbying team will remain  focused on influencing housing policy with the COVID-19 pandemic in full motion and state budget deficit.

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