Here are some steps NAA is taking to advance 2022’s policy priorities.
As the rental housing industry continues to grapple with the lingering impacts of the pandemic, the National Apartment Association (NAA) is looking to the year ahead and remains committed to robust advocacy on behalf of the industry’s interests.
At the start of each year, NAA publishes annual apartment industry policy priorities in partnership with the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC). These priorities guide our advocacy endeavors at all levels of government and ensure the industry is best positioned and prepared for the challenges and opportunities of the future. Further, they underscore NAA’s commitment to amplifying the unique needs of the rental housing industry throughout government.
The 2022 policy priorities come in the wake of significant progress made last year. Thanks to the diligent efforts of rental housing advocates across the country, NAA led Congress to allocate a second tranche of rental assistance, streamlined distribution of those critical dollars in states and localities nationwide, brought about an end to the federal eviction moratorium—and prevented efforts to enact another moratorium—and launched an unprecedented lawsuit aimed to capture the remaining $26.6 billion in federal rent debt. Altogether, these efforts made a tangible difference and delivered relief for housing providers and renters alike.
The industry’s work, however, is far from finished. This year’s priorities “reflect the near-term concerns of the housing crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the broader need to maintain the health and competitiveness of the rental housing industry for the long-term.” In each of these endeavors, NAA and its partners will pursue responsible and sustainable solutions that protect the interests of the industry today, tomorrow and always.
Following are some of the industry’s key priorities for the coming year and the steps that NAA is actively taking on each of them. A full list of the 2022 apartment industry policy priorities can be found on NAA's website.
Support credible and proven policies to address housing affordability and instability including financial assistance for renters, while opposing approaches that undermine the effective operation and financial health of rental housing—such as rent control and eviction moratoria.
Our nation faces an alarming housing affordability crisis and many of the industry’s 2022 policy priorities advance remedies to address the root of the problem—a critical lack of rental housing supply. The affordability crisis was evident before COVID-19, but the impacts of short-sighted pandemic policies have only exacerbated shortages. Today, apartment demand and occupancy rates—up to 97.5%—are at record highs, further complicating the crisis alongside inflation and labor and supply shortages. NAA research shows the country needs to build 328,000 new apartment homes each year to meet demand, a goal that has only been achieved four times since 1989.
Importantly, not all advocacy efforts involve supporting and pushing legislation. In fact, a key element of sustainably resolving our nation’s affordability crisis is to oppose policies that ultimately work against housing affordability. These policies—namely eviction moratoria and rent control—ultimately have the opposite of their intended effect, diminishing supply and harming affordability. During the coming year, NAA will work alongside its affiliate apartment association partners to ensure that states and localities understand the detrimental implications of policies like rent control. For instance, in January, NAA partnered with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) to testify before the Massachusetts State Legislature against rent control. In the hearing, new NAA modeling highlighted that a statewide rent cap would drop property values by more than $820 million and reduce property tax revenue to cities and towns by more than $7 million annually.
Promote regulatory and legislative strategies that remove operational challenges that slow or prevent development of housing.
As we look to remedy the housing shortages that fuel the affordability crisis, new policies must remove operational challenges that hinder the development of housing. As a core priority for the coming year, NAA will continue to advocate for tangible legislation that removes critical barriers to construction—namely the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, which would ultimately spur the development of much-needed affordable and market based housing.
Increase funding and improve the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Programs to enable greater private housing provider participation and expand affordable housing options for low- and moderate-income Americans.
NAA strongly supports the voluntary Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program—an essential tool in the nation’s affordability and lifeline for low- and very low-income families. The HCV program is the single most important tool in the housing affordability crisis, but it must be fixed to increase participation and help all families in need. As such, increasing the program’s funding, removing duplicative requirements to streamline the process and enacting critical reforms to bolster housing provider participation remains a critical policy priority in the year ahead. At present, NAA strongly supports and advocates for the Choice in Affordable Housing Act—legislation that would enact some of those needed reforms and bolster efforts to remedy the affordability crisis.
Ensure dedicated emergency rental assistance is available for renters and property owners to relieve past due rent to maintain the stability of America’s renters and the housing industry at large.
Over the past two years, NAA strongly advocated Congress to allocate emergency rental assistance dollars. Thanks to the hard work of NAA and its advocates, Congress approved $46.5 billion for rental assistance. As of the end of November 2021, however, just 35% of the available funds—$16.38 billion—have reached renters and housing providers in need. In the year ahead, NAA and its affiliated apartment associations will continue working with state and local programs to streamline the distribution of these essential funds to make both renters and housing providers whole.
These policy priorities are a small, but important, sample of the industry’s complete list for 2022. There is great work to be done, and NAA holds a steadfast commitment to deliver results for the rental housing industry. Working alongside our valued industry partners, affiliated associations and trusted member advocates, the year ahead can be one of meaningful progress for each of us.
Zach Quimby is Communications Specialist for the National Apartment Association.