On December 21, Congress passed a bill funding the federal government through September 30, 2021 that includes several priorities for apartment firms. Importantly, housing programs at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) saw an increase in funding—a total of $49.6 billion which is $561 million above the 2020 enacted level.
Funding for individual programs related to the multifamily industry include:
- $25.8 billion for Tenant-based Rental Assistance, $1.9 billion above the 2020 enacted level
- $3.5 billion for Community Development Block Grants, $50 million above the 2020 enacted level
- $1.35 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program, equal to the 2020 enacted level
- $13.5 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance, $895 million above the 2020 enacted level
- $20 million for a new eviction prevention demonstration program
- $43 million for new Section 8 vouchers for Homeless Individuals and Families, including veterans and survivors of domestic violence.
- HUD’s Office of Healthy Homes will fund $35 million in grants directed at identifying and remediating indoor housing contaminants that impact resident health.
- HUD is also undertaking a $4 million radon demonstration program aimed at assessing resident safety in public housing. The program requires the use of testing and mitigation strategies that “exceed” currently recommended by the Secretary and state and local authorities.
- $1.41 billion is provided for rental assistance for affordable rental housing for low-income families and the elderly in rural communities for renewal of all existing rental assistance contracts.
The omnibus appropriations bill also includes an extension and funding of programs outside HUD important to the multifamily industry, including:
- Making significant investments in pre-disaster mitigation programs, resiliency efforts through FEMA and substantial funding for FEMA’s flood mapping programs, all of which have been key priorities for NMHC.
- Reauthorizes the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program which has been an important source of capital for apartment developers.
- Reauthorizes the Water Resources Development Act which broadly deals with water infrastructure in communities, including drinking water and resiliency programs.
- Invests more than $730 million in expanding rural broadband deployment to provide economic development opportunities across rural areas.
Lastly, the omnibus includes a number of energy focused provisions aimed at supporting renewable energy, energy storage technologies, smart buildings and infrastructure, including a reliable, resilient, affordable, safe and secure electric grid. In what is viewed as a major step forward in addressing climate change, Congress has directed EPA to issue rules to reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants (HFCs) be reduced by 85% over the next 15 years.
Additional energy-related provisions in the bill include:
- Charging the Secretary of Energy with conducting a survey of the nation’s inventory of smart buildings, including privately-owned multifamily properties, to identify which buildings are the most effective in driving energy performance.
- Requiring the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish an accelerator program through the Better Buildings program to provide technical assistance to property owners to improve building energy performance.
- Charging DOE with advancing the spread of EV charging stations as part of a 10-year road map.
- Providing access to expanded resources for multifamily properties that serve qualified low-income residents to under the Weatherization assistance program.
- Making certain transformers on multifamily properties eligible for a rebate if they are replaced with a qualifying model.