NAA and NMHC Oppose Source of Income Legislation
NAA and NMHC are working together to sound the alarm on S.3612, the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018, introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). The bill would add “source of income” and veterans status to the list of federally protected classes under the Fair Housing Act and would essentially require owners and operators across the country to participate in the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program.
As all of you know, the Section 8 program is a powerful tool to assist families that are in need of housing assistance. This bill, though well-intended, fundamentally alters and undermines the intent of the program to be explicitly voluntary. That intent recognizes the importance of owner property rights, and acknowledges the regulatory compliance burdens on owners who choose to participate, which are increasingly obstacles to those who wish to participate. For more information, see NAA’s position statement on this issue.
NAA and NMHC have already begun efforts in the halls of Congress to raise members’ awareness of the unintended consequences of this legislation. Our work together to help enact common-sense reforms to the program in a previous Congress as part of the Housing Opportunity through Modernization Act was an encouraging success, but there is much more to be done.
The current status of the bill is that it has been referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, chaired by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID). That Committee will not move the bill before the end of this Congress, however, there are efforts underway to add S.3612 to whatever final legislation passes in the waning days of this session. Understanding the stakes for owners and operators, we are working hard to ensure that this does not happen. We are utilizing the NAA network of key Congressional contacts to weigh in with targeted leaders; however, please keep an eye out for a wider grassroots mobilization effort should that become necessary. We may need your help to make the industry’s voice heard on the Hill loud and clear.
Looking ahead, NAA and NMHC will continue to aggressively work the issue into the 116th Congress. Apart from the current efforts that are underway, NAA and NMHC remain committed in the long-term to opposing any and all efforts to make the Section 8 program mandatory. Instead, we are seeking a larger conversation amongst all stakeholders to reform the program and bring owners, advocates and administrators in closer alignment by eliminating regulatory burdens and implementing common-sense reforms that can incentivize more owners to participate. This will produce better outcomes for participating owners and residents alike.
Thank you for all that you do to help grow and protect the apartment industry. If you have any questions about NAA and NMHC’s joint efforts on the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2018 or Section 8 reform more broadly, please do not hesitate to contact Nicole Upano, Director of Public Policy.