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Filling the Seat – Make Housing a Policy Priority

housing policy

The apartment industry is no stranger to onerous regulations and bureaucracy. And while statewide referendums or changes to federal law draw headlines and attention from industry professionals and residents alike, local policies fall off the radar far too often. Politics are local, but it’s easy to overlook what happens in town halls and city council chambers.

As many throughout the industry know, it’s difficult to fully grasp the full impact of today’s most pressing issues—such as perpetual rent control referendums and the abuse of emotional support animal regulations plaguing the industry—unless they affect your livelihood and bottom line every day. Stakeholders within the industry have an inherent understanding of these issues, and an ability to articulate the impacts on the industry, our residents and the broader communities.

This amplifies the importance of industry advocates; speaking to, meeting with or even simply contacting lawmakers puts a living, breathing fact to the apartment industry and gives them a direct look at the challenges we face. We need those who provide apartment housing to take a seat at the table and shape the conversations around what does and doesn’t work. 

There is no better example of an effective industry advocate than our 2019 Advocacy 365 Advocate of the Year Dennis Watts. Dennis is a Regional Property Manager with the Yarco Company and oversees the management and operation of 1080 apartment homes in the Kansas City area. A true industry professional with 21 years of property management experience, Dennis is remarkably active in the Apartment Association of Kansas City and NAA. While there are few volunteer roles that he has not taken on, he has made being an advocate a natural part of who he is.

Critically, Dennis exemplifies the ideal that all politics really are local. It’s about who you know and, in turn, who they know. Building up a network of strong advocates allows for a wide net of influence, and Dennis knows how strong it is when the ask—or call to action—comes from a trusted colleague, friend or fellow stakeholder.

The apartment industry knows our critical role in local communities—together, we house the nearly 39 million Americans who call apartments home. But sometimes, as Dennis has shown time and again over the last 20-plus years, it can simply come down to a handshake and a relationship. “Hello” has the power to help us improve the strength of our industry.

As Dennis has illustrated, your voice and knowledge is critical in educating lawmakers on the issues that challenge apartment owners and operators day in and out. We must introduce ourselves where appropriate (and re-kindle relationships when possible), and personalize and explain why things matter to our industry. Registration is now open for Advocate, which convenes March 10th and 11th in Washington, D.C. We look forward to seeing you fill the seat at the table and shape the conversation around America’s housing crisis.