On January 20, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. It will mark the conclusion of an unparalleled election season that ended in a Republican sweep of both Houses of Congress. Now, NMHC and NAA are focused on identifying the industry’s advocacy agenda for the new Administration and Congress and we are entering 2017 in our strongest position in years. In fact, the coming year could present opportunities to work with lawmakers to secure legislative and regulatory advances that promote a balanced housing policy and recognize the important role that rental housing plays in a strong economy.
As we forge ahead on the 2017 agenda, it’s important to take a moment to reflect on our 2016 successes, of which there are many. Given the challenging realities of the last year, just ending this cycle with the status quo unchanged could be considered an accomplishment; but NMHC/NAA undertook strategic advocacy efforts on a number of issues, and below are some of the key victories secured during the 114th Congress.
- Enacted critical reforms to HUD’s Section 8 Voucher Program, including streamlining the property inspection process and extending contract terms for project-based vouchers.
- Secured language in HUD’s final SAFMR rule allowing public housing authorities considerable leeway to make exceptions and adjustments to the stated SAFMR.
- Facilitated the introduction of the Middle-Income Housing Tax Credit (MIHTC) legislation to spur the production of multifamily rental homes for America’s working families.
- Ensured the long-term reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA).
- Held back modifications to the privatized military housing program that could have jeopardized the future of the program.
- Prevented interruption of the EB-5 program through a short-term extension and continue to pursue long-term preservation of the program.
the apartment industry millions of dollars in annual construction costs by
advocating for technologically feasible, cost effective building codes and standards including:
- Protected existing buildings and Type B (accessible units) from expanded accessibility provisions requiring wider turning radiuses and larger clear floor space for wheelchairs.
- Saved the industry up to $650 million by addressing the issue of fires in apartment buildings by ensuring that certain proposals apply only to pedestal type construction.
- Defeating efforts to expand accessibility requirements in the 2018 International Code Council (ICC) building codes.
- Changed the building code requirement that now limits mezzanines from 1/3 the area to ½ the area below.
The passage of legislation and reform of regulation is often a multi-year effort and can take even longer in today’s semi-paralyzed legislative environment. This year we were successful in pushing forward several issues that are now better positioned to lead to outright victories in the coming years.
- Moved bipartisan legislation in both the House and Senate to curb frivolous ADA lawsuits by allowing property owners the “right to cure” alleged compliance concerns and laid the groundwork for passage of legislation in the 115th Congress.
- Secured passage in the House of legislation that would help foster a more robust private marketplace for flood insurance coverage, setting the stage for reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 2017.
The NMHC/NAA advocacy team is proud of our work this year. The information, resources and insights that we provide our members can be as important as our efforts on Capitol Hill. To that end, NMHC/NAA developed key industry resources to help apartment executives stay up to date on changing policies and laws. These included:
- New Federal Overtime Rules and the Apartment Industry
- Cybersecurity Multifamily Risks and Best Practices
- Fair Housing Criminal Screening Policies
- Fair Housing: A Strong Commitment to the Fair Housing Act
NMHC/NAA regularly monitor and provide input on a variety of industry standards as they are revised. This year we worked to update and re-release the National Green Building Standard (NGBS), which provides robust green building guidance for all multifamily property types and serves as an alternative to other building performance labeling programs. Nearly 90,000 multifamily units have been certified to the NGBS with another 70,000 units in the certification pipeline.
NMHC/NAA are well positioned in the current political and legislative environment to build on our 2016 successes. NMHC will continue to aggressively advocate on behalf of the apartment industry over the next few months and will work with the Trump administration as well as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to implement policies that support the unique needs of the multifamily industry as we work to provide homes for 38 million Americans.