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NAR Coalition, Lawmakers Pressure Congress for Rental Relief

NAR and others sent a Nov. 9 letter on this to congressional leaders. Separately, some lawmakers are pushing for COVID money to be reprogrammed to help rental owners.

WASHINGTON – The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) and a coalition of housing groups want Congress to take funds approved for COVID-19 relief and use it to help property owners hurt by the pandemic and eviction moratoriums. They requested help in a letter sent on Nov. 9 to the majority and minority leaders in the Senate and House.

Members of the coalition also include the CCIM Institute, Council for Affordable and Rural Housing, Institute of Real Estate Management, Manufactured Housing Institute, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Affordable Housing Management Association, National Apartment Association, National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Housing Cooperatives, National Leased Housing Association and the National Multifamily Housing Council.

The coalition’s letter says keeping people in their homes during the pandemic “requires a comprehensive approach, for both residents and property owners.” They “implore Congress to extend additional COVID-19 relief measures and fund a strong federal assistance program that protects the long-term stability of our nation’s housing markets.”

The letter makes four major requests:

  1. Provide financial assistance to renters in need
  2. Replace eviction moratoriums that will not solve our nation’s housing problems
  3. Expand the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to include all multifamily businesses
  4. Provide full-year funding for Fiscal Year 2021 for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and provide funding for the Department of Agriculture’s rental assistance programs

The coalition says that “housing providers will continue to suffer losses that strain their ability to continue operations,” and, “many of these firms are small, family-owned businesses that will face an unrecoverable financial burden that could lead to the greatest rental housing crisis of our lifetime.”

Lawmakers letter to HUD, Treasury

On Nov. 6, three days before the coalition sent its letter to Congressional leaders, six members of Congress sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and HUD Secretary Ben Carson asking for existing pandemic-recovery money to be reprogrammed to help the housing industry, saying they “fear that housing providers will be unable to meet their financial obligations, including mortgage, insurance and property tax payments, along with ongoing property maintenance needs.”

The lawmakers said that an SBA final rule issued on April 2 raised doubts about PPP loans for rental housing developers, housing cooperatives and owner firms.

“We urge you to compel the SBA to ensure rental housing firms, owners and operators of manufactured housing communities, and student housing operators can compete fairly for these loan and grant funds when the PPP becomes available again,” the lawmakers wrote.

While Congress, HUD and the Treasury have not yet responded to the requests from the lawmakers and housing coalition, the groups remain guardedly optimistic that some type of additional relief will be authorized.

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