October 24, 2016

Recap of the High-Cost Cities Housing Forum’s 2016 Retreat in Seattle


Last week the High-Cost Cities Housing Forum (HCHF), a peer-to-peer group comprised of the local housing commissioners from nine of the most expensive cities in the United States, met in Seattle for its annual retreat. Enterprise has convened the HCHF for 10 years as a venue for local policymakers to discuss housing policy, offer program ideas and exchange best practices.

Over the course of two days, the HCHF commissioners discussed a wide range of policy issues, from best practices for acquiring and preserving affordable housing, to lessons learned in the implementation of HUD’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, to recent legislative efforts to strengthen and expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. The commissioners were joined by HUD Assistant Secretaries Gustavo Velasquez and Kathy O’Regan to discuss the agency’s Prosperity Playbook and local strategies for preventing displacement in rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods. They also held sessions with Matthew Desmond, author of the groundbreaking book Evicted, on local policy responses to America’s eviction epidemic, and U.C. Berkeley’s Carol Galante on new tools for modeling the cost and impact of certain local housing regulations. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray also addressed the group to provide an update on his administration’s progress toward implementing the city’s comprehensive Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda.

The commissioners also discussed the implications of the upcoming 2016 election on federal housing policy. In the coming months the commissioners will send a joint letter to new administration officials and members of the 115th Congress laying out the policy changes that are necessary to address America’s growing rental housing crisis, with a particular focus on the needs of high-cost cities.

Current commissioners of the HCHF include:

  • Sheila Dillon (Chair), Chief of Housing and Director of the Dept. of Neighborhood Development, Boston
  • Vicki Been, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation Development, New York City
  • Rushmore Cervantes, General Manager of the Housing & Community Investment Department, Los Angeles
  • Polly Donaldson, Director of the Department of Housing & Community Development, District of Columbia
  • Olson Lee, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing, San Francisco
  • George Mensah, Director of the Department of Community & Economic Development, Miami
  • Rick Padilla, Director of Housing & Neighborhood Development, Denver
  • Anthony Simpkins, Managing Deputy for Housing at the, Department of Planning & Development, Chicago
  • Steve Walker, Director of the Office of Housing, Seattle

Enterprise and the HCHF commissioners would like to thank the Ford Foundation for sponsoring this initiative over the past several years. The HCHF is a key part of the foundation’s efforts to create more equitable, inclusive and sustainable cities across the globe.

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