A key component of every Annual Meeting is the committee meetings, during which industry leaders discuss emerging trends and challenges, consider solutions and set a strategic agenda. Here’s a brief summary of the hot topics discussed in the committees during the 2016 NMHC Annual Meeting.
The emphasis was for the Finance Committee was, in part, on transaction volume. Based on the discussion, this volume can be found where job growth exists, with Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco being the only major markets on the list. Most of the others are smaller markets, which is where equity and capital are deploying. The top destinations for foreign investment were also highlighted and include Manhattan, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix.
Workforce Housing Committee
The Workforce Housing Committee met in a productive session that featured in-depth analysis and discussion of potential legislative and regulatory tools to help meet the demand for apartments. Looking at federal solutions, the committee looked at a range of options from a new “Workforce Housing Tax Credit” to support construction and rehabilitation of buildings targeting the 60 percent to 80 percent area median income to simple regulatory tweaks from FHFA to bring more capital into the marketplace. NMHC staff are reviewing the committee’s feedback to develop a refined strategy moving forward.
The likelihood of tax reform this year was one of the top of mind issues for the tax committee. There was agreement that, based on Capitol Hill reports, including by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), that reform would not happen this year. However, Speaker Ryan and other key lawmakers have said that the groundwork for reform will be laid in 2016 and NMHC is planning on playing an integral role.
Student Housing Committee
According to the Student Housing Committee, the possibility of a slowing economy means that student housing will be providing stability. Specifically, regardless of the macro environment, the fundamentals will also be good for this sector if there’s a downturn - with investors once again fleeing to student housing because of the stability of cash flows.
In addition, the committee welcomed a keynote speaker, Tom Koulopoulos, a leading futurist and founder of the Delphi Group. He emphasized the fact that as people continue to live longer, few will expect to fully retire. Ultimately, this growing older demographic will continue to be interested in living closer to universities, which will further spark demand for, and investment in, student housing.
With the goal of advancing on a diversity initiative in 2016, the Diversity Committee reported on a number of new projects to that end. In particular, the group was proud to work on two programming events for the meeting. The first was a special moderated panel during the Emerging Leaders’ networking lunch, where industry executives with diverse backgrounds shared insights, observations and advice to those just getting going in their careers. The second was a diversity discussion between committee Chairwoman Julie Smith of The Bozzuto Group and Michele C. Meyer-Shipp, vice president and chief diversity officer at Prudential Financial.
PAC Chairman Bob DeWitt handed over the leadership to new Chairwoman Sue Ansel of Gables Residential. The committee met and reviewed the successful efforts in 2015. They also set the fundraising goal for 2016 at $1.5 million. Being an election year, the focus will be on gaining member support in the first half of 2016. This critical support will allow NMHC PAC to help many allies in Congress who are up for reelection this November.
The committee was also pleased to welcome Mike Allen, chief White House correspondent for POLITICO, during an invite-only PAC recognition breakfast. Allen offered his take on the vast array of candidates with their hats in the ring for a presidential nomination. Will Donald Trump get the Republican nomination? Maybe, said Allen, if voters turn out for him during the caucuses. Can Hillary win? Her biggest obstacle, said Allen, is she lacks likeability. People don’t want to go have a beer with her, so to speak.
Supplier Partner Alliance (SPA)
The SPA committee enthusiastically discussed ideas on how to continue to improve the exhibit hall experience for both attendees and exhibitors. Ideas discussed included uniform sized booths for all, establishing a bar in the center of the hall that mimics a bar in the lobby, hiring a sports star to sign autographs and even setting up an 18-hole putting course that runs throughout the hall. Stay tuned as discussions and input continue.