Updates and Impact on Rental Housing
Biden Executive Order on Fair Housing
Today, President Biden issued the Memorandum on Redressing Our Nation’s and the Federal Government’s History of Discriminatory Housing Practices and Policies. As expected, the President took action to open the door for the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to reinstate the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule and the 2013 Disparate Impact Rule which were repealed and replaced during the Trump Administration. In the memorandum, he ordered the HUD Secretary to reexamine the changes made to these policies under the previous administration and take necessary steps to ensure agency’s policies align with the original rules’ intent and this administration’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act’s protections. Learn more about what these changes mean for the rental housing industry on the NAA website, including our previous reporting on affirmatively furthering fair housing and disparate impact.
To give you some indication of his position on federal fair housing policy, he also affirmed the Administration’s commitment to work with communities to end housing discrimination, to provide redress to those who have experienced housing discrimination, to eliminate racial bias and other forms of discrimination in all stages of home-buying and renting, to lift barriers that restrict housing and neighborhood choice, to promote diverse and inclusive communities, to ensure sufficient physically accessible housing, and to secure equal access to housing opportunity for all. We will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to make sure they understand the operational consequences of legislative and regulatory changes like these on the provision of rental housing.
Continuing Impacts of CARES Act Notice to Vacate Provision
For some of you, the 30-day notice-to-vacate (NTV) requirement enacted as part of the CARES Act temporary eviction moratorium continues to be a problem. Courts have found in some states that this requirement did not expire with the CARES Act eviction moratorium last summer. The COVID recovery legislation proposed by the Biden Administration could offer another opportunity to address this lingering issue. The window is narrow, but we will still try. To that end, as we seek out more allies in Congress to help us, I would like to confirm in what states this is still an issue and where it is not. If the CARES Act NTV continues to be a problem in your state, please contact our Director of Public Policy, Nicole Upano with more information on those impacts in as much detail as you can provide. Alternatively, if this issue has been resolved through court action or state legislation, please share that as well. I know some of you have already been in contact with Nicole on this topic. Thank you for that. For those who have not, your input is appreciated.
Virtual Seminar on Advocacy
As you know, the Government Affairs team actively looks to provide valuable education opportunities for affiliates and members alike to learn more about pressing issues facing the rental housing industry. To that end, we’d like to invite you to the upcoming Congressional Management Foundation’s (CMF) webinar, “The Virtual Advocacy Toolkit & How to Conduct a [Virtual] Meeting with Congress”.
This webinar will be helpful for any of your members who are looking to get more involved with advocacy, especially as Advocate 2021 approaches. We encourage you and your members to participate in this webinar to learn best practices when virtually communicating with lawmakers and to prepare for Advocate and other future NAA advocacy activities. If you have any questions regarding the upcoming webinar, please reach out to our new Manager of Grassroots Engagement, Austin O’Boyle.
Emergency Rental Assistance Program – Treasury Guidance
As you may know, on January 19, the U.S. Treasury Department published Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) regarding program requirements of the $25 billion Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), approved in the December 2020 COVID-19 relief package. While the FAQs answered many questions, providing information on participation requirements, record keeping, and definitions, NAA and our coalition partners felt that further clarification is needed. Here are some additional items we are urging them to consider in future guidance for state and local government grantees:
- Provide for full coverage of arrears and prospective rent.
- Clarify and streamline the process by which funds can be paid directly to the property owner on behalf of the resident and how owners apply for assistance on a resident’s behalf.
- Ensure communication between residents and owners is adequately documented, while not requiring direct contact for health and safety reasons.
- Design clear processes for residents to fulfil their obligations under the lease if their housing provider does not want to take direct payment from a local grantee.
- Confirm rent on a property in a manufactured housing community is eligible for assistance.
- Allow residents to self-certify and/or utilize attestation forms to seek assistance, rather than requiring burdensome paperwork and provide both electronic and paper application options.
- Enable collection of any required documentation directly from the owner, including copies of the lease, proof of rent in arrears/currently owned, copy of resident CDC declaration, if applicable; and the landlord’s W-9.
- Establish criteria allowing those who have received assistance to recertify continuing need in future months and be flexible enough to incorporate an influx of additional resources as future COVID relief measures are implemented.
The Treasury Department will have a listening session this week to hear more input on guidance for the program. NAA will be participating.