AIMS Update: NAA/NMHC Testify Before EPA on Proposed Rules to Expand Lead-Paint Regulations | National Apartment Association

AIMS Update: NAA/NMHC Testify Before EPA on Proposed Rules to Expand Lead-Paint Regulations

 

 


National Multi Housing Council | AIMS Update
National Multi Housing Council | AIMS Update
July 1, 2013
NAA/NMHC JOINT LEGISLATIVE NEWS
NAA/NMHC Testify Before EPA on Proposed Rules to Expand Lead-Paint Regulations
NAA/NMHC Discuss Public-Private Apartment Partnerships at Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee Roundtable
New NAA/NMHC Video Makes the Case for Apartments
U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Fate of HUD's Disparate Impact Rule
HUD Releases Studies on Housing Discrimination Against Minorities, Same-Sex Couples
Boston Joins Growing Number of Cities Requiring Building Energy Disclosure
Supreme Court Upholds Property Owners' Rights During Land-Use Approval Process
Bipartisan Bill Kick-Starts Housing Finance Reform, Embraces NAA/NMHC Principles
Housing Finance Reform Roundtable Acknowledges Uniqueness of Multifamily Mortgage Market
Congressional Tax Writers Seek Momentum for Tax Reform
NAA NEWS
Immigration Reform Will Be Apartment Industry’s Focus During Congress’ August Recess
 
NAA/NMHC JOINT LEGISLATIVE NEWS
NAA/NMHC Testify Before EPA on Proposed Rules to Expand Lead-Paint Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) heard comments from property owners, contractors, union officials and environmental groups in a public hearing on June 26, 2013, on a pending rule that would establish additional federal requirements for renovations and repairs in public buildings built before 1978 and all commercial buildings.  EPA has suggested that multifamily buildings with more than 10 units may be considered as commercial properties for the purpose of this rule. This represents a significant expansion of current regulations, which apply only to residential buildings and child-occupied facilities constructed prior to 1978, when lead paint was banned. 

Christine Young-Gertz of the Apartment Association of Greater Philadelphia represented NAA at the hearing. Young-Gertz asked that the EPA take time to develop solutions that would avoid duplication. She asked that the EPA:

  • Start with reliable and valid information about commercial buildings and limit any new regulations so they do not overlap with existing rules and industry practices.
  • Consider industry practices in commercial buildings that have further reduced the chances of exposure to lead hazards, since the use of lead-based paint has been dramatically limited since 1978.
  • Be aware that additional costs for RRP rules have a direct and significant impact on any buildings’ net operating income.

Patrick Connor, President of CONNOR, an environmental consulting firm, represented NMHC at the hearing. In his testimony, Connor called on EPA to conduct the necessary research to first identify whether lead paint in these buildings is creating a threat to the public health and, if it is found that current workplace regulations are insufficient to protect, then EPA should tailor the solution to the problems that are identified rather than simply applying the residential lead paint rules to an expanded group of buildings.   

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NAA/NMHC Discuss Public-Private Apartment Partnerships at Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee Roundtable

Tom Bozzuto Committee Hearing
 NMHC Chairman Tom Bozzuto (far right) speaks with the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee.

NAA/NMHC recently were invited to participate in an informal roundtable discussion with the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee on how to stimulate infrastructure investment through public-private partnerships. Twenty-two members of the Senate Democratic Caucus were in attendance as NMHC Chair Tom Bozzuto, chairman and CEO of The Bozzuto Group, represented the apartment sector, stressing the industry’s economic and job growth contributions.

Bozzuto provided details of successful public-private partnerships, using a recent Bozzuto project in Wheaton, Md., as an example. The property was built above a metro station on public land in a joint venture with the county housing agency. It used tax credits, tax-exempt bonds and HOME funds to help create 173 units of housing, a portion of which are reserved for low-income residents.

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New NAA/NMHC Video Makes the Case for Apartments

As part of the recently launched, multimedia public relations campaign, “Apartments. We Live Here,” NAA/NMHC added a new video to its suite of public relations and advocacy resources. The video reinforces some of the key messages about apartments’ economic and job growth contributions while promoting a number of online tools available at the campaign’s website, www.WeAreApartments.org.  

The video is available on NAA's "Apartments. We Live Here." campaign webpage.  Member firms are encouraged to link to it from their websites to help spread the word about how apartments help build communities.

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U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Fate of HUD's Disparate Impact Rule

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving federal housing discrimination law, the outcome of which will determine the validity of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) disparate impact rule. The rule effectively expands the Fair Housing Act to apply not only to acts of intentional discrimination but also to actions and policies that have a disparate impact on a protected class, regardless of intent.

The court’s final decision will affect apartment owners, managers and developers, as HUD’s new rule has called into question the legality of some often used industry and business practices, such as resident screening.

In the case, Township of Mount Holly v. Mount Holly Gardens Citizens in Action, Inc.,the New Jersey township created a plan for redeveloping a blighted neighborhood occupied mostly by low- and moderate-income minority households. Residents filed suit against the township, arguing that the redevelopment had a disparate impact on minorities.

NAA/NMHC have additional resources on disparate impact, including an on-demand webinar outlining some business practices that could be affected by the rules.

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HUD Releases Studies on Housing Discrimination Against Minorities, Same-Sex Couples

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released two studies on housing discrimination—one that focused on widespread housing discrimination in both the for-sale and rental markets and another that examined housing discrimination against same-sex couples in the private rental market.

The most recent release of the decennial study Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2013 found that while obvious discriminatory treatment—such as refusing to provide information about a housing unit or denying a request to see an available unit—is declining, subtle forms of discrimination persist. The study also revealed that housing discrimination is more apparent in the buying market than it is in the rental market.

However, in the study, An Estimate of Housing Discrimination Against Same-Sex Couples, HUD found that same-sex couples experienced unequal treatment more often than heterosexual couples when responding to Internet ads for rental units. Moreover, gay male couples encountered discrimination more frequently than lesbian couples.

NAA/NMHC remind members to evaluate their practices and properties to ensure they are in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

More information on fair housing is available.

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Boston Joins Growing Number of Cities Requiring Building Energy Disclosure

Boston enacted an ordinance requiring buildings to evaluate and publicly disclose their energy use. Reporting requirements for multifamily buildings follow a graduated timeline, beginning with 50-plus unit buildings in 2015. Energy rating requirements for buildings are increasingly popular, and similar energy benchmarking mandates have been approved or considered by other cities, including New York and Washington, D.C.

At the federal level, the Senate is considering an amendment to bipartisan energy efficiency legislation (S. 761) that would explore the use of building energy labels. As originally drafted, the amendment would provide grants to state and local jurisdictions to implement energy disclosure programs.

NAA/NMHC have cautioned against building rating systems that would grade buildings on their energy efficiency, since the accuracy of these labels is not yet proven in the apartment sector. Instead, NAA/NMHC continue to advocate for the expansion of well-known and voluntary energy management tools, such as the federal Energy Star program, to apartment properties.

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Supreme Court Upholds Property Owners' Rights During Land-Use Approval Process

On June 25, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on a key land-use case in support of private property rights, holding that property owners may be entitled to compensation when a jurisdiction denies a land-use permit. The decision will have a significant effect on the land-use approval process whenever zoning and environmental regulators seek concessions from real estate developers.

Property owners and developers are routinely forced to agree to additional stipulations from regulatory bodies to obtain land development permits. At issue in Koontz v. St. Johns River Water Management District was whether those types of regulatory actions during the land-use approval process constitute a “taking” of a real estate developer’s private property rights, violating the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

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Bipartisan Bill Kick-Starts Housing Finance Reform, Embraces NAA/NMHC Principles

 

On June 25, a group of bipartisan senators led by Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) introduced the first meaningful housing finance reform legislation since  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were put into conservatorship in 2008. 

The bill, The Housing Finance Reform and Taxpayer Protection Act, winds down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over five years, replacing them with a single housing finance system that retains a limited federal guarantee, relies more heavily on private capital and better protects taxpayers from potential losses. 

Although the measure is just the first step in what is likely to be a long process toward actually enacting housing finance reform, it is expected to kick-start the otherwise stalled issue.

More important, the measure largely reflects the key principles for multifamily finance reform outlined by NAA/NMHC.  Specifically, it includes a separate provision that preserves the multifamily lending programs that exist today.  It also retains a federal guarantee that is critical to maintaining a high-level of liquidity for the sector. 

The bill would create a Federal Mortgage Insurance Corporation (FMIC) to oversee the mortgage industry.  The FMIC would issue mortgage-backed securities with full or partial federal guarantees.  Private capital would be required to take a first loss position, and the FMIC would regulate the lenders and issuers that participate in the FMIC mortgage insurance program.  It would also oversee an insurance fund to further protect the taxpayers. 

The multifamily provisions reflect a five-year campaign by NAA/NMHC to educate lawmakers about the unique needs of our sector and the need for a separate solution that addresses those needs.

NAA/NMHC will continue to work with lawmakers as this bill and others expected to be issued work their way through the legislative process.  View a detailed summary of the bill.

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Housing Finance Reform Roundtable Acknowledges Uniqueness of Multifamily Mortgage Market

 

On June 28, NMHC Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Cindy Chetti represented NAA/NMHC and the apartment industry during an invitation-only roundtable discussion on housing finance reform with House Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) The event was the second in a series of panel discussions focused on finding reform solutions that ensure access to mortgage credit, affordability and taxpayer protection.

During the discussion, Chetti pointed to growing apartment demand, underscoring the industry’s needs for a liquid multifamily mortgage market that will allow apartment firms to access capital in all geographic markets and at all times in the economic cycle. She also highlighted the proven performance of the multifamily programs at government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

In addition, Chetti said NAA/NMHC were encouraged by the recently released Warner-Corker bill, which recognized the unique characteristics of the multifamily finance market and took steps to preserve the current platforms with a new housing finance system.

Several members of Congress, including House Subcommittee on Capital Markets Ranking Member Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y) and Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.), acknowledged the fundamental differences between single-family and multifamily financing and stressed the importance of retaining the successful multifamily platforms. A video of the discussion is available here.

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Congressional Tax Writers Seek Momentum for Tax Reform

Leaders of key committees in both the Senate and House gear up to begin building support for tax reform efforts. While details of specific proposals are unknown at the moment, congressional leaders are considering some important changes in the tax code that would affect apartment firms.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) sought to advance their efforts to enact tax reform on June 27 by sending a letter to all senators, asking them to consider a framework that removes all tax expenditures from the tax code. Tax expenditures include credits and deductions, including those for mortgage interest, capital gains and dividends, retirement savings, charitable giving and education. Senators are requested to inform the committee by July 26 of specific tax expenditures they seek to retain.

On the House side, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) continues to develop his own proposals for tax reform. Beginning in July, Chairmen Baucus and Camp are expected to hold town hall meetings and events nationwide to build popular support for tax reform.

The prognosis for tax reform is unclear as several issues await resolution. Chief among them is the question of whether a reformed tax system should raise additional revenue, given that the American Taxpayer Relief Act, enacted in January 2013, raised $675 billion in new revenue. In addition, it is uncertain whether policymakers are willing to curtail popular credits and deductions such as the mortgage interest deduction in favor of a lower tax rate.

NAA/NMHC have identified key priorities for the apartment industry and continue to work with congressional leaders to ensure that these issues will be reflected in any tax reform effort.

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NAA NEWS
Immigration Reform Will Be Apartment Industry’s Focus During Congress’ August Recess

Your involvement with your members of Congress is a year-round commitment to support the apartment industry. Take advantage of their August recess by scheduling meetings with them now. Their five-week recess begins August 5, so now is the time to make your appointments.

Our industry’s focus this August will be on immigration reform. Learn more about the issue with the fact sheet and talking points.

To learn more about meeting with your members of Congress during the August recess, join NAA for our grassroots webinar series: “Investing in Advocacy.” All half-hour webinars will begin at 1 p.m. ET. The series will include:

  • July 16: August Congressional Recess -- A refresher on how to schedule your meeting as well as review the talking points and fact sheet on immigration reform.
  • July 23: How to Conduct an Apartment Tour with a Member of Congress -- Apartment tours give elected officials a chance to meet with their constituents and develop an understanding of the impact of multihousing rental properties on the community as well as the implications of public policy on the apartment industry. 
  • July 30: Conducting a Town Hall Meeting in Your Community -- Town hall meetings have a long tradition in America and a specific purpose and history. This is your opportunity to learn more about town hall meetings and how to plan one in your community.

More resources are available in the Congressional Recess Program Toolkit.

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AIMS

AIMS is the apartment industry's grassroots network operating under NAA and NMHC's Joint Legislative Program. AIMS represents more than 58,000 multifamily housing advocates.

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