Roundtable and Industry Coalitions Urge Congress to Act on Affordable Housing Measures

Affordable Housing Industry Coalition May 2023

The Real Estate Roundtable and 18 other real estate organizations urged Congress on May 23 to work with the Biden administration, housing providers, lenders, and other stakeholders to pursue bipartisan solutions to increase the nation’s supply of housing. (Coalition letter, May 23)

“Yes in My Backyard”

  • This week’s joint letter from the Housing Affordability Coalition detailed a wide range of legislative proposals and policy measures that lawmakers should immediately enact to address the nation’s housing affordability crisis.

  • The industry coalition supports legislation that would eliminate harmful land use policies, promote affordable housing near public transit, and support local government efforts to expand housing supply.

  • Separately, The Roundtable joined another coalition of 285 housing, business, and municipal organizations with a show of focused support for the bipartisan, bicameral Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBY) Act, reintroduced on May 18. (YIMBY Coalition letter)

  • The bill requires localities that receive certain federal HUD grants to submit a public report on whether they have local policies in place that remove exclusionary zoning tactics. Encouraging high-density development is “an essential first step in decreasing barriers to new housing of all price levels,” the YIMBY Act coalition letter states.

  • The YIMBY Act passed the House without opposition in 2020. It is championed in the Senate (S. 1688) by Todd Young (R-IN) and Brian Schatz (D-HI), and in the House (H.R. 3507) by Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Mike Flood (R-NE). (YIMBY Act summary by Up for Growth)

Tax Measures

  • This week’s Housing Affordability Coalition letter encourages Congress to expand the low-income housing tax credit, create a new middle-income housing tax credit, and establish a dedicated tax incentive to promote the conversion of underutilized office and commercial buildings to rental housing.

  • The letter also supports tax measures that have not been reintroduced yet in the 118th Congress, including incentives to encourage neighborhood revitalization, accelerated depreciation of high-performance building equipment, and reduction of the basis increase necessary to qualify a multifamily rehabilitation project for Opportunity Zone purposes.

  • The industry coalition expressed support for the Biden administration’s proposed solutions such as its Housing Supply Action Plan and investments that are part of its FY2024 federal budget proposal. (Roundtable Weekly, May 22, 2022 and White House fact sheet, March 9, 2023)

On March 7, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA) offered joint testimony before a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “Tax Policy’s Role in Increasing Affordable Housing Supply for Working Families.” (Roundtable Weekly, March 10)

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Treasury Releases New Guidance for Emergency Rental Assistance; YIMBY Act Reintroduced

U.S. Treasury Department

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) 

Distribution Challenges 

  • 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 

Apartment Building

  • 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.” 

YIMBY Reintroduced 

Construction of affordable housing

  • 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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House of Representatives Passes Affordable Housing Bill to Reduce Zoning Barriers with No Opposition

YIMBY logo x475

The United States House of Representatives on Monday passed the bipartisan Yes in My Backyard (YIMBY) Act (H.R. 4351) on a voice vote, following last week’s unanimous approval by the House Financial Services Committee.  (Roundtable Weekly, Feb. 28, 2020)

  • Sponsored by Reps. Denny Heck (D-WA) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), the YIMBY Act avoids a mandate from Congress to compel cities and towns to enact certain land use laws.  Municipalities that receive HUD’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) would be discouraged from limiting housing supplies through reporting on and disclosing their land use and zoning policies that inhibit high density land uses. 
  • The YIMBY Act would direct a community receiving federal CDBG money to consider, track, and report on implementation of over 20 pro-housing strategies, such as:
    • Enacting high-density zoning, and expanding by-right multifamily zoned areas;
    • Allowing manufactured homes and accessory dwelling units on single-family lots;
    • Reducing minimum lot sizes;
    • Increasing allowable floor area ratios for multifamily projects;
    • Providing property tax abatements to existing home owners to garner support for high development densities in their communities; and
    • Ensuring that impact fees paid by developers accurately reflect infrastructure needs generated by new units.
  • “Sunlight is the best disinfectant and we need to identify and reduce barriers to housing construction at the local level,” Heck said following the House vote. “I am proud that Congress is taking a critical first step towards bringing relief to cost-burdened renters and homeowners across America.”  (Heck press release, March 2.)
  • “We want more affordable homes for American families,” Hollinsgworth said on Monday.  The YIMBY Act’s unanimous approval “signals strong support across the aisle to reform our nation’s housing regulations at all levels of government.” (Hollingsworth Press Release, March 2)
  • The Roundtable joined Feb. 24 and March 2 coalition letters signed by real estate, “smart growth” and subsidized housing advocates, in a show of wide stakeholder support for the YIMBY Act.
  • Speaking at the 2020 Pension Real Estate Association Spring Conference this week Roundtable President and CEO Jeffrey D. DeBoer, said: “The Roundtable has long recognized that safe, decent, and affordable housing is essential to the well-being of America’s families, communities and businesses. The YIMBY Act is a positive first step in eliminating discriminatory land use polices and removing barriers that prevent much needed affordable housing from being built throughout the country.”

The Roundtable and coalition partners will continue to urge lawmakers to make progress on the YIMBY Act in the Senate and similar legislation that eases burdensome rules that inhibit affordable housing development.

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House Committee Unanimously Advances Bill to Reduce Zoning Barriers to Affordable Housing

The House Financial Services Committee reported a bill today with overwhelming bipartisan support that would require localities to report to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) on land use practices that promote affordable housing production.

  • The Real Estate Roundtable joined a Feb. 24 coalition letter to support H.R. 4531, the Yes in My Backyard (“YIMBY”) Act. The bipartisan bill – sponsored by Reps. Denny Heck (D-WA) and Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) – would direct local governments that receive HUD Community Development Block Grants (“CDBGs”) to develop favorable planning and zoning strategies that enable affordable housing development.
  • “We have a national housing crisis, one that is brought on in part by zoning and land use policies,” Rep. Heck said upon the Committee’s approval of the bill today with no opposition.  “The YIMBY Act is a crucial first step to addressing these policies in order to increase affordability and construction.”  (Heck-Hollingsworth joint press release)
  • The YIMBY Act respects federalism principles and avoids a mandate from Congress to compel cities and towns to enact certain land-use laws.  Rather, the bill aims to discourage localities from limiting housing supplies through reporting and disclosure rules attendant to HUD’s grant process.
  • Specifically, the YIMBY Act directs that a community receiving CDBG money must consider and track implementation of over 20 pro-housing strategies, such as:
  • Enacting high-density zoning, and expanding by-right multifamily zoned areas;
  • Allowing manufactured homes and accessory dwelling units on single-family lots;
  • Reducing minimum lot sizes;
  • Increasing allowable floor area ratios for multifamily projects;
  • Providing property tax abatements to existing home owners to garner support for high development densities in their communities; and
  • Ensuring that impact fees paid by developers accurately reflect infrastructure needs generated by new units.
  • Speaking at the Annual Real Estate Forum held at the University of Colorado (Boulder) this week, Roundtable President and CEO, Jeffrey D. DeBoer, said:  “The YIMBY Act recognizes that local zoning ordinances coupled with lengthy duplicative permitting hurdles frequently result in decreased housing availability and increased housing costs.  Asking local authorities to report on their efforts to ease these regulatory hurdles makes a lot of sense.”  DeBoer and Roundtable board member Ric Clark (Senior Managing Partner and Chairman, Brookfield Property Group) focused their keynote presentation at the event on national policy issues, including housing affordability, as well as current and expected trends in national real estate markets.
  • The National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA) issued a statement praising the Committee’s action on the YIMBY Act – and also noted the successful markup of the Housing is Infrastructure Act (H.R. 5187), sponsored by Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA).  H.R. 5187 would direct greater investments to construct new affordable housing units for low-income households, persons with disabilities, and the elderly.  It would also provide more federal funding to build, repair and modernize public housing.
  • A bill similar to the YIMBY Act — that uses the “carrot” of federal grants to incentivize high density land uses – is the Build More Housing Near Transit Act (H.R. 4307).  While the YIMBY Act leverages HUD CDBG dollars, H.R. 4307 leverages Federal Transit Administration grants to require local authorities to evaluate housing development along proposed rail, bus, and other mass transit routes.  H.R. 4307 is under consideration as part of “must pass” infrastructure legislation to reauthorize the Highway Trust Fund, which is scheduled to expire on Sept 30. (Roundtable Weekly, Oct. 4, 2019)

The strong bipartisan showing for the YIMBY Act at the Committee level bodes well for full House consideration in the coming weeks.  While the path forward in the Senate is presently unclear, The Roundtable and coalition partners will continue to press lawmakers to make progress on the YIMBY Act and similar legislation.

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Roundtable Submits Comments to HUD on Barriers to Affordable Housing Development; NMHC Releases 2020 Outlook on States’ Rent Control Efforts


The Real Estate Roundtable today submitted a suite of policy suggestions (revised January 21, 2020) to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to improve access to affordable housing.  The comments respond to HUD’s Request for Information seeking public feedback on laws, regulations, land use requirements and administrative practices posing barriers to housing affordability and availability.

The Roundtable’s comments offer policies intended to bring more safe, decent, and affordable housing within reach of indigent and low-income households.  It also urges HUD to focus on the scarcity of homes accessible to middle class families, and recommends policies to increase both purchase and rental options for teachers, first responders, and other contributors in America’s workforce. 

Recognizing “there is no single, best solution to promote housing affordability and increase housing supplies,” The Roundtable suggests a number of strategies to address the challenges and opportunities for public, low-income, and middle class housing, including:

  • Expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, and provide a similar tax incentive focused on housing development for America’s middle class;
  • Use GSE reform to re-focus the mission of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on liquidity in the mortgage markets for low- and middle-income home buyers, while also encouraging GSE interventions to enhance middle class rental housing;
  • Reform procedures and rules under the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), so banks can receive “credit” when they serve lending needs and increase housing supplies in middle class neighborhoods (80-120 percent of Area Median Income);
  • Foster a Yes in My Backyard – or “YIMBY” – environment whenever states and cities seek the “carrot” of federal grants, that obliges localities to implement land-use laws to deliver high density zoning needed to entitle affordable housing projects;
  • Promote greater production of manufactured housing as a high quality, less costly alternative to site-built homes; and
  • Direct the General Services Administration to prioritize increasing affordable housing supplies when it disposes of surplus federal properties for re-development by states, localities, and the private sector.

The comments conclude with an assessment of rent control laws which have “a long-term effect to worsen the housing crisis,” The Roundtable wrote to HUD.  The letter notes that numerous studies show these laws decrease housing supplies and can illogically benefit high-income earners who have no incentive to move out of controlled units.

In a related development this week, the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) released a report on “Rent Control: A 2019 Recap and a 2020 Look Forward,” which provides a national assessment of rent cap efforts by multiple states. The new report supplements NMHC’s Housing Affordability Toolkit that explains the cost drivers behind apartment development and delves into best practices to address the affordability challenge. 

During The Roundtable’s January 28 State of the Industry meeting in Washington, DC, a discussion of housing availability and affordability will feature Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee.

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