A recent hearing provided opportunities to collaborate on key housing issues.
On April 26, 2023, the U.S. Senate Banking Committee held a hearing entitled “Building Consensus to Address Housing Challenges,” providing an opportunity for the rental housing industry to collaborate with lawmakers to address key housing issues.
Chairman Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ranking Member Tim Scott (R-S.C.) continue to work in a bipartisan manner to examine proposals to increase access to affordable housing. The National Apartment Association (NAA) and the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) issued a joint statement ahead of the hearing urging Congress to “redouble its efforts” and prioritize proposals to address the housing affordability crisis. NAA and NMHC once again expressed eagerness to work with both Congress and the Biden Administration “to address the housing affordability challenges faced by communities across the nation.”
- The Committee heard testimony from the National NeighborWorks Association (NeighborWorks), the Cato Institute and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC). NAA was pleased that both the NLIHC and NeighborWorks referenced support of two bipartisan bills also supported by NAA, the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act and the Choice in Affordable Housing Act (S.32).
- Ranking Member Scott released his framework for the Renewing Opportunity in the American Dream (ROAD) to Housing Act to “lift families up by taking a comprehensive view of federal housing policy, introducing long-needed reforms across all segments of the U.S. housing market.” NAA is reviewing this framework and where it may align with its policy agenda.
- Senator Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) voiced support for S.32, for which he is the lead Republican co-sponsor. He discussed the importance of the legislation and how it would strengthen existing housing choice opportunities. Housing Subcommittee Chair Tina Smith (D-Minn.) highlighted the cost burden that some zoning ordinances have on affordable housing. She pointed to the YIMBY Act as a solution she endorsed. This legislation introduction by Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) is imminent, and is a top priority for the rental housing industry and has strong bipartisan support. Smith urged its passage.
- Senators John Kennedy (R-La.) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) both discussed the ongoing challenges with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), especially increased insurance rates, and the need for reform. The Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on the NFIP on May 2, 2023.
Overall, there was broad optimism during the hearing that there could be bipartisan agreement on ways to tackle housing challenges. NAA’s hope is that the efforts noted above by members of the Committee to highlight S.32 and the YIMBY Act bode well for their inclusion in a future markup of a housing legislative package.
NAA is encouraging all stakeholders to contact Senators Brown and Scott and advocate for these bills. In addition to working with members of the Senate to pass those specific proposals, NAA will ensure the voice of housing providers is heard on any other proposal that could positively or negatively impact the rental housing industry.