UC Davis students are advocating for the passage of an act that would make student housing cheaper and improve the standards of living.
The Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act (CHIA) seeks to amend the current tax codes and ensure that donations to not-for-profit student housing will be completely tax deductible. Currently the act is looking for sponsors, but supporters of CHIA aim for the act to pass by the end of 2011.
The act would benefit fraternities and sororities at UC Davis and may also help student housing facilities such as the Cal Aggie Christian Association, the International House, the Solar Community Housing Association and other cooperative student communities. “This act would allow more not-for-profit student housing to expand and have more life-saving equipment,” said Anisha Chikarmane, senior international relations major and sister of Tri Delta who went to Washington D.C. to lobby on behalf of the act. “More students will be able to get affordable housing.”
Introduced in 2003, the bi-partisan act states that all donations will go toward expanding and updating safety features to non-university owned student housing.
Currently, if alumni donate money to the university, it is completely tax deductible. This is not the case if donations are given to non-university owned housing. The donation has to be directed toward educational facilities, not infrastructure.
Under this act, all donations and grants given to not-for-profit student housing will be 100 percent tax deductible. Funds aim to repair the infrastructure of housing and increase standards of living through the installment of central heating and cooling systems and fire sprinklers. The act excludes funding toward social, recreational and physical fitness facilities.
Greek Housing is one of the largest not-for-profit student landlords, Chikarmane said. CHIA would allow more spots for students to live in the houses.
“The act would improve the vibrancy and health of the Greek community,” said Joaquin Feliciano, Greek life coordinator with Student Housing. “It will indirectly benefit the whole campus by providing more opportunities for philanthropy and other events.”
Feliciano said that not all members of Greek life can afford to live in their houses, but CHIA could change that.
“CHIA will encourage more alumni donation,” said Emily Rankin, a UCLA senior and Tri Delta sister. “It is a cheaper alternative and a unique way to approach the housing issue.”
ASUCD unanimously passed a resolution supporting CHIA on March 29. The resolution stated that CHIA would make college more affordable at no cost to taxpayers by offering housing that’s less expensive than university-affiliated housing.
“The major thing to do is to spread knowledge of this act to those who can take advantage of it,” said Tatiana Moana Bush, an ASUCD senator and senior political science and sociology major. “We are supposed to keep students informed and updated on issues we are supposed to fight for.”
As of 2009, the cost of living on campus is on average $12,000; the cost of living off campus averages around $8,000, said Chikarmane.
“Hopefully, it will be a more proactive act toward housing,” Bush said. “The benefits will outweigh the costs.”
Introduced in 2003, the act was reintroduced in the beginning of April this year to Congress. It passed with 237 sponsors in the House of Representatives and 33 sponsors in the federal Senate.
The act has still not been touched on the floor and is currently looking for sponsors from both Democratic and Republican parties, according to Chikarmane.
ALICIA KINDRED can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.