The Treasury Department on May 7 issued new guidance for local municipalities administering emergency rental assistance programs, with rules aimed at directly assisting more renters in less time. The rules simplify applications for aid, expand covered costs such as moving expenses and hotel stays, and require programs to help tenants directly even if their housing providers choose not to participate. (New York Times, May 7)
- Congress approved $25 billion of emergency rental assistance in December 2020 under the Consolidated Appropriations Act. An additional $21.6 billion was allocated in March 2021 under the American Rescue Plan Act. The Treasury Department ‘s May 7 announcement releasing the second allocation was accompanied by its new guidance. (National Multifamily Housing Council, May 10)
- State and local authorities have been overwhelmed with how to allocate the influx of funds, leaving many tenants and housing providers waiting weeks or months for the assistance. (Washington Post, April 8 and Wall Street Journal, April 13)
- The nine “enhanced policies” from Treasury aim to ensure that states and localities can move quickly to address the housing affordability crisis wrought by the pandemic. (Treasury’s May 7 Fact Sheet and FAQs on Emergency Rental Assistance)
- The new guidance comes days after a federal judge overturned the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, which is scheduled to expire June 30. Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia also issued an order on May 5 that temporarily allows the moratorium to continue while she considers an emergency appeal by the Biden Administration. (Roundtable Weekly, May 7)
Rental Assistance Support
- The Roundtable is part of a broad real estate coalition that recently urged state, county and municipal officials to distribute the allocated federal funds as soon as possible. (Coalition letter, April 15)
- The coalition letter emphasized the need “to quickly and fully allocate available American Rescue Plan federal funds to provide assistance to renters, consumer-facing small businesses, and impacted industries such as retail, tourism, travel, and hospitality that are having trouble paying rents, mortgages or remaining viable enterprises due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- The bipartisan “Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act” was reintroduced on May 13 in the House by Reps. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) and Derek Kilmer (D-WA).
- The bill would require local governments applying for federal housing development funds through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program to report whether they have enacted policies to reduce counterproductive regulations that may affect affordability. (Hollingsworth news release and text of the bill)
- The Real Estate Roundtable is one of many organizations that have endorsed YIMBY, which passed the House last year but stalled in the Senate. The Roundtable also urged support for the YIMBY Act in comments filed with HUD in January 2020. (Roundtable Weekly, March 6, 2020)
- A Senate YIMBY companion bill was also introduced May 13 by Sens Todd Young (R-IN) and Brian Schatz (D-HI).
- “Discriminatory local zoning and land use policies drive up housing costs in communities across America,” said Sen. Young. “These policies exacerbate the housing affordability crisis and stifle the ability of Americans to move to areas of opportunity. My legislation will require cities, towns, and rural areas across America to face this reality under a new level of transparency and encourage them to cut these harmful regulations.” (Sen. Young news release, May 13)
- “The YIMBY Act complements the many pro-housing proposals currently before Congress,” said Mike Kingsella, Executive Director of Up for Growth Action. “The YIMBY Act will empower communities across the country to clear the path for housing that is more affordable, equitable, and sustainable.” (Up for Growth’s YIMBY Fact Sheet)
The Roundtable and its coalition partners will continue to urge lawmakers to pass the YIMBY Act and similar legislation that eases burdensome rules that inhibit affordable housing development.
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