From the nation’s most influential lawmakers and speakers, to some of the hottest legislative issues facing the multifamily industry like housing finance and tax reform, last week’s 2015 NMHC Fall Board of Directors and Advisory Committee Meeting lived up to its reputation as a must-attend event. The exclusive meeting was held in the heart of Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood at The Fairmont Hotel.
Highlights included Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who addressed the standing room only Capitol Hill Luncheon in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Senator McConnell was joined by other top legislators in discussing key multifamily issues like policies and legislation focused on cutting through the burdensome regulatory environment and the chances for the first comprehensive reform of the tax code since 1986. But all the speakers agreed that tax reform will be punted further down the road because, in part, of sharp divisions between Congress and the Administration.
In addition to Senate Majority Leader McConnell, top-ranking congressional lawmakers that spoke at the Hill luncheon included: Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO); Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA); Senator Gary Peters (D-MI); Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH); Senator Jon Tester (D-MT); and Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Robert Diamond, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Private Sector Engagement, also spoke to luncheon attendees about President Obama’s leading priorities before he leaves office. They included many pressing issues facing the multifamily industry like housing finance and regulatory reform, reducing the barriers to housing development, reforming the business tax code and expanding the affordable rental market.
Other fall meeting speakers included NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg who touched on landmark U.S. Supreme Court rulings like their much anticipated Disparate Impact decision in June. And Best-Selling Author Bethany McLean, who penned the newly released Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants, shared her expert take on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s future.
Nationally-recognized pollsters Kellyanne Conway, founder and president of The Polling Company, Inc./WomanTrend, and Celinda Lake, president of Lake Research Partners, also provided their unique perspectives on the upcoming 2016 elections from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
In another standing room only event, the NMHC Workforce Housing Affordability Committee met for the first time in-person at the fall meeting. Committee Chairman Larry Curtis of WinnDevelopment kicked off the meeting by outlining the scope of work going forward. Topics discussed included constructive and punitive local laws and ordinances related to multifamily development, as well as working to identify best practices for local governments and planners. The committee decided to move forward on identifying, and better defining, the cost drivers for multifamily developers. They agreed to conduct outreach to committee members on local barriers, or beneficial policies, they have observed in markets where they do business.
The NMHC Diversity Committee, chaired by Bozzuto Management Company President Julie Smith, also met during the fall meeting. The committee is part of NMHC’s long-term commitment to promote diversity within the multifamily industry. During the meeting, committee members discussed potential programming to highlight best practices for diversity and inclusion, and opportunities to leverage various organizational partnerships to strengthen and diversify the industry’s talent pipeline.
And NMHC’s expert legislative staff briefed attendees at the fall meeting on a wide range of emerging legislative and regulatory issues facing the multifamily industry. This included new like-kind exchange and tax depreciation studies, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ controversial Waters of the U.S. final rule, post-recession banking regulations governing liquidity coverage ratios and high volatility commercial real estate loans, FHFA’s soon to be released 2016 scorecard for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and the Supreme Court's Disparate Impact ruling mentioned above.
Finally, meeting attendees were invited to attend a kick off cocktail reception held by Shelters to Shutters - a Washington area based nonprofit organization that engages real estate professionals to provide vital opportunities for ready-to-work homeless.