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Rental Assistance Gets Bipartisan Nod, Gains Momentum as States Reopen

As Americans continue to grapple with our new normal, states throughout the nation are discussing how, if not already preparing, to reopen the economy amid COVID-19. Lawmakers, health officials and economic experts are together developing complex plans to do so safely, often focusing on public health benchmarks and economic recovery efforts. While these plans vary by state, one thing remains apparent – rental housing residents, owners and operators all need direct relief to ensure that the 40 million Americans who live in apartments still have a safe place to call home.

Several federal entities have released suggestions and guidance to help governors and state governments navigate their reopening. Chief among these is a checklist provided by the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, which notably includes relief for the apartment industry as a benchmark for economic recovery. The Problem Solvers emphasize that “we must find a way to afford relief, either through long-term loans, rental relief, forgiveness, or temporary forbearance for renters and homeowners, while, at the same time, ensuring the liquidity of related lenders and landlords.” As every rental housing owner and operator has experienced, the bills are still due even when rent does not come in and failing to pay them may have severe consequences. Housing is a cornerstone of the economy and a necessity for every American, and it needs to be protected during these challenging economic times.

Encouragingly, the Problem Solvers are not alone in recognizing our industry’s critical needs. The New York State Senate recently called for emergency rental assistance funding. While there are many facets and aspects of individual plans that need greater analysis to determine the exact implications for our industry, including the New York Senate’s proposal, the National Apartment Association (NAA) is pleased to see temporary, direct rental assistance measures gaining popularity and momentum. NAA affiliates are doing their part to contribute to such efforts by actively engaging their state and local leaders on ways to structure emergency rental assistance strategies.

NAA’s breakdown of $1 of rent furthers the case and illustrates that rental income doesn’t line the pockets of owners and operators, but actually pays to keep communities safe and maintained. Every aspect of the apartment industry is at risk of extreme financial hardship – through no fault of their own – and it is critical that reopening and economic recovery plans assist the nation’s housing providers and our residents.

For information on COVID-19 related policy concerns, Congressional action, best practice operational and legal guidance and NAA’s federal lobbying efforts, see the links below.