Two national advocacy groups for the apartment industry are calling for Congress to provide additional relief and assistance for America’s rental housing providers, industry professionals and their residents in light of the uncertainty and challenges caused by the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Tuesday, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and the National Apartment Association (NAA) applauded quick action by Congress and the Trump administration on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, but noted, “While many of its provisions are being implemented and relief is beginning to reach affected communities, it is clear from the huge toll the COVID-19 outbreak has had on our nation, further relief and recovery measures are needed.”
The advocacy groups said they continue to face “dire economic circumstances that would devastate housing stability and the affordability, availability and quality of the rental housing supply nationwide. Congress must provide additional relief to renters and rental housing operators.”
The organizations released the following statement:
“NMHC and NAA are calling on lawmakers to act now and provide assistance to our nation’s 108 million renters and the 17.5 million workers the industry supports.
“As the government extends nationwide social distancing protocols and implements stay at home orders, the apartment industry is on the front lines of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak in communities across the nation. Rental housing owners and operators take seriously their responsibility to ensure residents are safe and secure. We are working alongside public officials to put residents and employees at ease. Yet as more residents face job loss or furloughs and are unable to fulfill rent obligations, many owners/operators fear they, too, will not be able to satisfy their own financial obligations required to operate their properties.
“Today, NMHC and NAA called on Congress and the Administration to provide additional relief and assistance for America’s rental housing providers, industry professionals and their residents.”
In a joint letter, NMHC and NAA outlined a number of priorities for inclusion in the next COVID-19 relief package Congress is now considering:
Create an emergency rental assistance program to help renter households who don’t currently receive federal rental subsidies but are now struggling to cover housing costs because of the COVID-19 crisis;
Align the timelines of mortgage forbearance and eviction provisions;
Expand the SBA Paycheck Protection Program to include multifamily and student housing firms so they can protect their employees and operations;
Provide critical tax relief for multifamily property owners;
Enact critical infrastructure programs to support economic recovery.
NMHC and NAA also joined with other real estate partners in a real estate coalition letter highlighting many of the same priorities detailed in NMHC and NAA’s joint letter.
The organizations said, “The enormity of the challenges we are facing as a nation and as an industry are evolving on a daily or even hourly basis. NMHC and NAA are committed to working with lawmakers to provide the assistance necessary to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.”
According to a blog post by the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center, renters are more vulnerable to the economic shocks of COVID-19 than homeowners, young renters are more vulnerable than older renters, and Black and Hispanic renters are more vulnerable than white and Asian renters.
In 2019, one-third of young renters had trouble paying rent, compared with 8.7 percent of renters 65 and older, reports the Urban Institute. This is partly because young renters have fewer liquid assets, including cash and savings. In 2019, renters 35 and younger had income and employment rates similar to renters ages 35 to 45 but had half the median liquid assets, $5,200 versus $10,200.