This week, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development, and Insurance held a hearing titled “The Rent Is Still Due: America's Renters, COVID-19 and an Unprecedented Eviction Crisis” to examine how the COVID-19 pandemic, and the widespread unemployment that has followed, will effect already cost burdened renters and rental property owners.
NMHC and NAA submitted written testimony for the record outlining further Congressional action needed to ensure the financial viability and stability of the rental housing industry and its residents. The testimony explained the state of the industry and modifications needed for existing and proposed relief legislation (the CARES Act and the HEROES Act). NMHC and NAA also joined other industry groups on a coalition letter echoing many of the same recommendations included in the submitted testimony.
Congressional members and hearing witnesses repeatedly highlighted the need for rental assistance for both renters and property owners and explained how renter households and minority households are disproportionately facing the impacts of the pandemic. While expanded unemployment insurance benefits and one-time stimulus payments were helpful for renters and property owners in the short run, additional assistance will be necessary to address the long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
NMHC and NAA’s written testimony highlighted the industry’s perspective and made specific recommendations that Congress can take to solve the nation’s current housing challenges. “Importantly, a robust rental assistance program must be included in any future relief package as financial assistance is critically needed for renters and housing providers alike due to the crisis,” the testimony read.
Witness Jenny Schuetz, a fellow at The Brookings Institute, commented on the broader implications of the rental housing crisis, “Halting rent payments can have harmful ripple effects throughout local economies. Landlords rely on rent checks to pay their mortgages, insurance, utilities, and property taxes to local governments…Local government budgets have already been hit hard by declining revenues and increased need for services; delayed or diminished property tax revenues will impact their ability to provide essential services.”
NMHC is working to ensure rental assistance and other proposals critical to the industry’s viability and stability are included in the next COVID-19 relief package. More information on NMHC’s advocacy work and additional COVID-19 resources can be found at NMHC’s COVID-19 Hub.