WASHINGTON DC – The new actions announced by the White House to protect renters and promote rental affordability along with the Blueprint for a Renter’s Bill of Rights are an important step in addressing the needs of renters coping with housing unaffordability in markets that have seen rents rise at double digit rates.
The Biden Administration should be commended for working closely with both tenant advocates and the rental apartment industry to identify best practices to reduce evictions. It is clear the Biden Administration made great efforts to carefully balance requests from the broad range of stakeholders with whom they spoke.
Vacant units cost landlords money and helping people get back on track with their rent payments is in everyone’s interest. Developing industry best practices for avoiding foreclosures is an important next step.
There is no doubt “the rent is too damn high” in many markets; however, high rents are the product of market forces that are determined by the inability of supply to keep up with demand. The law of unintended consequences is never repealed. We need to be sure the steps we take adequately account for the very real market dynamics that could easily result in higher rents for everyone should investors pull back from the affordable housing market.
It is also important to recognize rent prices have begun to go down, with the national index falling 0.8 percent in December. We must be careful not to create a long-term policy to a short-term problem that has been, in part, driven by the pandemic.
Housing unaffordability is an issue we have struggled with for many years and need to address. Congress’s failure to enact the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA), which would have created an additional 2 million units of affordable rental housing, plays a part in this. NHC calls on Congress to immediately take up this legislation under regular order to address the supply crisis we have been dealing with for over a decade. Housing supply is a crisis in both red and blue states, and the AHCIA has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
Ultimately, the best solution to the supply-demand imbalance we see today is to build more affordable units. As FHFA, HUD, and other regulators move to address this issue, they need to be careful not to disincentivize the very production that is needed to have a long-term impact on reducing prices.
Founded in 1931, the National Housing Conference is the oldest and broadest housing coalition in America. NHC is a diverse continuum of affordable housing stakeholders who convene and collaborate through dialogue, advocacy, research, and education, to develop equitable solutions that serve our common interest – an America where everyone is able to live in a quality, affordable home in a thriving community. Politically diverse and nonpartisan, NHC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.