On March 8, 2021, the National Apartment Association (NAA) hosted their annual NAA Advocate conference, which gives members a chance to raise key issues in the rental housing industry with legislators. While in past years, NAA Advocate has been hosted in person in Washington D.C., this year’s event was virtual. That said, in no way was it any less impactful.
Through March 13th, many NAA affiliates will meet with their members of Congress in Virtual Hill Visits to address concerns. This gives a chance for members to share their story at the national level and advocate for themselves, their team, their peers and the industry at large.
The conference features keynote speakers, Q and A sessions, educational discussions on emerging policy issues and a briefing on what to address in Virtual Hill Visits.
Here are the key issues the NAA is advocating for and why they should matter to professionals in the property management industry.
The Housing Crisis Caused by COVID-19
National rental debt grew to tens of billions of dollars in 2020 due to the pandemic. This has had crippling effects on the property management industry, and if eviction moratoriums continue, it could result in an even more damaging housing crisis.
To avoid further financial instability and negative impacts to housing supply, NAA members will be communicating to lawmakers the need to provide increased rental assistance and an end the federal eviction moratorium.
NAA members are asking lawmakers to sunset federal eviction moratoriums to halt the destabilization of the rental housing market. The moratoriums have restricted property owners’ ability to pay mortgages, salaries, property taxes, maintenance and utilities, ultimately putting many properties into jeopardy. This also will negatively impact renters. Once the moratoriums are lifted, many will be unable to afford to pay their debts, causing them to lose their homes. Members of the NAA will be asking for a clear end date to the moratoriums and for Congress instead to offer increased rental assistance.
The $25 billion in emergency rental assistance that Congress has provided thus far, as well as stimulus checks and unemployment funds, has prevented mass amounts of evictions and provided stability to residents who have been greatly impacted by the pandemic.
That said, to close the rental debt gap and prevent additional arrears, NAA members will be asking for additional assistance dollars. Members will also be requesting that these payments are given directly to landlords to streamline payments and ensure they can continue to operate their properties. Some state-level NAA affiliates have advocated for this with positive results, and this will quickly address the stress of both landlords and renters.
In addition to the effects of COVID-19, the industry has an overarching issues surrounding housing affordability.
Section 8 Voucher Reform
The NAA has long supported the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. While it is one of the most successful rental subsidy programs, members are asking for reforms to eliminate regulatory burdens and increase provider participation. Studies have shown that almost three-quarters of rental property owners that once accepted voucher holders now refuse them. This is resulting in a massive affordable housing issue. NAA members are supporting improvements to the HCV program, including:
– awarding incentive payments to housing providers that are new participants or operate in high-volume areas
– a mitigation fund so owners can better manage repairs and damages
– establishing inspection reciprocity to allow owners and operators already subject to other inspection protocols satisfy HCV requirements
Senator Chris Coons is currently drafting reform legislation that will steady Section 8 funding and encourage participation by private housing providers. A companion House bill is expected, and NAA members are asking lawmakers to cosponsor legislation once introduced.
The Yes in My Backyard Act
On a local level, development barriers are increasing the cost of housing across the board. Reducing regulatory and administrative barriers present in individual jurisdictions is one of the most impactful strategies to address housing affordability in the U.S. In cities across the nation, the “Not in My Backyard” mindset is causing a limited supply and increasing demand in rental housing, which lawmakers need to address.
The Yes in My Backyard Act is designed to eliminate regulatory barriers and encourage jurisdictions to reduce exclusionary land-use policies. This act will promote thoughtful development strategies and regular reporting to encourage further housing development. This bill was passed in the last session of Congress on a bipartisan level in the House, and NAA members will be advocating that it passes when it is reintroduced in the Senate.