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LEGISLATION, REFORM, AND NEW STANDARDS.

The Joint Legislative Program: NAA and NMHC Make Our Voice Heard in Congress

Working in partnership with the National Multi Housing Council, the NAA/NMHC Joint Legislative Program was successful on Capitol Hill in a number of areas: bankruptcy reform, occupancy standards, accessibility, resident-based Section 8, and the International Building Code/International Fire Code. This success was enhanced by the Apartment Industry Mobilization Service (AIMS), an organized grass-roots effort to ensure that active industry professionals establish and maintain relationships with their elected officials. Joint Legislative Staff sent out four significant AIMS Alerts, prompting members and industry professionals to send 2,016 letters to Congress, the Administration, and numerous other contacts.

Bankruptcy Reform

NAA/NMHC and the American Seniors Housing Association, an NMHC affiliate, successfully secured, with an industry coalition, language in bankruptcy reform legislation (H.R. 3150 and S.1301) which would exempt residential real property from the automatic stay when a housing provider commences an eviction action where the rental agreement was terminated before a resident declares bankruptcy or commences an eviction action against a holdover resident after bankruptcy has been declared. NAA/NMHC also secured language that would permit owners to move to evict an individual who has declared bankruptcy but whose actions or use of illegal drugs pose a threat to the safety of persons or property. While the legislation was not enacted before the 105th Congress adjourned, the apartment provisions were included, as a result of NAA/NMHC actions, in the conference report negotiated between the House and Senate, and will likely be included in bankruptcy reform legislation expected to be introduced at the beginning of the 106th Congress.

Occupancy Standards

NAA/NMHC scored a major legislative victory in comprehensive housing reform legislation (H.R. 4194) that passed late in the 105th Congress by obtaining statutory clarification of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD's) occupancy standards policy under the familial status provisions of the Fair Housing Act. Under the new law, HUD is prevented from establishing a national occupancy standard and is further directed to issue the Keating memorandum, without amendment, as final HUD policy for determining complaints of discrimination on the basis of familial status which involve an occupancy standard established by a housing provider. The Keating memorandum establishes a general standard of two persons per bedroom as reasonable, subject to rebuttal for special circumstances including bedroom size, unit configuration, and age of children.

Accessibility

NAA/NMHC played a key role with Congress in successfully urging HUD to withdraw and revise the ambiguous "Fair Housing Act Design Manual" issued in 1996. For the first time since the law went into effect in 1991, developers now know that property built according to the newly revised manual issued in 1998 will meet HUD's interpretation of the Fair Housing Act accessibility requirements. While an improvement over the prior version, an independent technical review of the revised manual, commissioned by NAA/NMHC and others, finds more than 150 inconsistencies and ambiguities between the manual and HUD's earlier "Fair Housing Accessibility Guidelines" (FHAG). The revised manual also establishes new HUD policy in a number of areas, a fact NAA/NMHC contend requires public notification and comment before implementation. To clarify the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act at the beginning of the design and building development process, NAA/NMHC have repeatedly urged HUD to conduct a review of the model building codes for compliance with FHAG and recently a consultant was selected by HUD to undertake that review.

Resident-Based Section 8

NAA/NMHC led an industry coalition and successfully advocated permanent reforms to the resident-based Section 8 program that would reduce the costs and administrative burdens to property owners in the comprehensive housing reform legislation (H.R. 4194) which passed late in the 105th Congress. The legislation permanently eliminates the program's "take one, take all" "endless lease" "90-day notice," and "federal preferences" requirements.

International Building Code (IBC) International Fire Code (IFC)

As the advocate for multifamily and seniors housing, NAA/NMHC/ASHA have closely followed the development of the new set of international model building codes, working to keep the code provisions in the new codes in line with, and no more stringent than, the code requirements in the current three model buildings codes.

State and Local Policy

NAA's State and Local Policy Department continues to produce research on behalf of the industry and respond to member inquiries regarding state and municipal government activity. Two hot issues came to the forefront in 1998. NAA's State and Local Policy Department responded by developing and distributing two white papers: "Preventing Fires in Multifamily Rental Housing: Retrofit Sprinkler Installations," and "Water Conservation: Water Allocation and Submetering Programs for Multifamily Rental Housing Communities."

NAA's Political Action Committee: Working Together to Affect Change in Legislation

The National Apartment Association Political Action Committee (NAA PAC) exceeded its fundraising goal for the 1997-1998 election cycle. The PAC raised more than $74,600, surpassing its goal of $70,000 in September 1998. The number of contributors in 1998 was 167, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. This was the first election cycle implementing the "Fair Share" program. Twenty-seven NAA affiliates met their Fair Share goals for the '97-'98 cycle. The PAC contributed to 30 candidates: eight Senate and 22 House. One-hundred percent of the Representatives we supported were elected or re-elected. Six of the eight Senators were successful in their election/re-election bids.

National Public Radio (NPR) White House correspondent Mara Liasson addressed more than 50 attendees at the NAA PAC's only federal fundraiser in 1998. An Insider's View on Washington, held during the 1998 NAA Capitol Conference in March, raised more than $10,000 for the PAC. Liasson addressed the attendees on topics such as the recent political struggles of the Clinton presidency and her predictions concerning the upcoming 2000 presidential election. Liasson has been White House correspondent for NPR since 1992.

Events such as these and the support of NAA members ensure that the multifamily housing industry's political voice will remain strong in Congress. Behind the scenes, however, our PAC needs support for its administrative expenses. To meet this need, the NAA PAC Golf Tournament in November, which took place during NAA's Assembly of Delegates fall meeting, was held. This fun and successful event afforded members networking opportunities, as well as raising money for the PAC's administration.
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Publication:Units
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 1999
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