Community tours give lawmakers a direct look at challenges the apartment industry faces.
As unfavorable rent control and eviction protection policies continue to gain traction throughout the nation, developing and fostering relationships with our policymakers is critical. All advocates recognize the value in meeting with your member of Congress, whether on the Hill or in their district office. But when we take lawmakers out of their day-to-day routines and bring them into apartment communities—our industry’s reality—we open an entirely new world of possibilities.
Community tours are particularly important because they give lawmakers a direct look at the challenges faced by the apartment industry. Further, rental housing owners and operators give the industry a living, breathing face during community tours and have an unparalleled opportunity to tell lawmakers exactly how policies affect the day-to-day operations of their businesses. Tours also show lawmakers that apartments foster genuine communities and allow them to interact directly with our residents—otherwise known as their constituents. During a fraught, and often contentious, political cycle, human connection is a welcomed necessity.
Throughout 2019, National Apartment Association (NAA) affiliates—from New Jersey to Texas and many more—hosted members of Congress at local apartment communities. After executing three successful community tours, Jason Simon, Director of Government Affairs for the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas (AAGD), noted, “Often, these property tours are the first exposure elected officials have to the rental housing industry. It really makes an impact when they see for themselves what it takes to operate an apartment community, rather than just hearing about a policy proposal that impacts our industry but may or may not ever become law.”
Similarly, the New Jersey Apartment Association (NJAA) found that their community tour with Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.-5) opened dialogue on key federal, state and local issues and presented an opportunity to thank the member for his leadership on legislation reauthorizing and reforming the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Simon captures the sentiment and importance of community tours, as he explained that, “Property tours with members of Congress allow us the opportunity to introduce them to owners and managers of rental property and explain in a meaningful way the importance of our industry in terms of the positive economic impact apartments have on their districts. Perhaps most importantly, property tours help us build relationships with elected officials and give them an opportunity to meet constituents—so it’s a win for everyone.”
With 2020 and its countless federal, state and local elections looming alongside rent control and eviction protection policies, we encourage NAA’s broad affiliate and member network to engage with your local policymakers and members of Congress, perhaps when they are home during Congressional recess. Not only are these smart advocacy tools for the industry, but an opportunity to ensure you’re included in the conversation surrounding housing policy.