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Apartment Industry Well Represented at CBC Housing Townhall

Last week, NAA member Malcolm Bennett, President of the Apartment Association, California Southern Cities (AACSC) and President and founder of the Minority Apartment Owners Association (MAOA), participated in a virtual townhall held by the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). The meeting examined how COVID-19 is affecting housing, particularly how it impacts people of color, and featured Representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Maxine Waters (D-CA) and Al Green (D-TX), alongside others.

In his remarks, Congressman Green bluntly stated that “the rent must be paid.” When introducing Bennett, Congresswoman Waters recognized the plight of property owners, stating that she “has been hearing from so many mom-and-pop landlords in [her] district who are struggling because of this crisis.”

Bennett explained that renters and owners alike are hurting and that, while owners understand and are sympathetic to renters who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19, it is not possible to operate rental housing without rental income. He further detailed owners’ immense and varying financial obligations – like insurance, utilities, property taxes and maintenance – that must still be paid, even without rental income. With people at home, and in many cases not working, those expenses have only increased.

Property owners do not want to evict residents, Bennett explained, but they cannot operate properties without rental income – owners put roofs over heads and need renters, just as much as renters need a home. He made an impassioned plea for rental assistance, and asked Congress to protect Americans by supporting rental assistance legislation. Bennett closed his remarks with a story from a MAOA member who, without rental income from their family’s four-unit building, would be unable to put food on their table or keep the lights on at home. Simply put, “Congress must act.”

Direct, emergency rental assistance has been a priority for the National Apartment Association (NAA) throughout the COVID-19 emergency. NAA continues to advocate for responsible, sustainable policies that will bring needed relief to renters and rental housing providers alike, and we continue to emphasize that an extension of the federal eviction moratorium is not the answer. Congress must come back to the table to move forward robust financial assistance for those struggling due to COVID-19 to keep renters stably housed and ensure the long-term viability of the apartment industry.

Watch the entire townhall here.