By Greg Brown, NAA Legislative Affairs
Apartment Industry Colleagues,
This month I will take a quick moment to review some of the more significant events so far in 2012 as it relates to NAA’s advocacy efforts. It has been a busy year with activity on a number of different policy fronts, but there are some standouts. One common theme you will note is the work that we do in coalition with other industry groups. This is commonplace in federal policymaking, but not always acknowledged. With so many different interests competing for the limited attention span in Congress, joining forces where interests are aligned is really the only sure way (and not even always that sure) to be successful.
Topping my own personal list of industry successes at the midpoint of 2012 is our work on HUD’s bed bug notice. Issued in August last year, this quasi-rulemaking would have tied the hands of owners by severely limiting their options for preventing and responding to bed bug infestations as well as covering costs. But, working with a broad coalition of industry groups, we convinced HUD to revisit its proposal. HUD’s new version issued this spring addresses all of the major concerns for apartment owners and operators and is far more reasonable. Of course, our work goes on to secure a comprehensive solution to the bed bug problem overall.
On the legislative side of things, Congress took up reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) this year. Before hitting a procedural roadblock, the House and Senate had each passed reauthorization bills and were headed towards a conference committee to iron out differences. NAA and the broader affordable housing industry strongly supported these efforts while working to ensure provisions impacting our members were effectively crafted. We were successful in those efforts and are positioned well for the endgame on this legislation. Stay tuned for more information on that.
Similar to VAWA, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was set to expire at the end of May unless Congress took action to extend it. Things were moving along towards a long-term extension and reform of the program (which we support) but stalled in the Senate. NAA, working in coalition with more than twenty other organizations, rallied the grassroots to successfully get the Senate moving again. Ultimately, Congress passed another short-term (60-day) extension of the NFIP, but this addressed the short-term concern that the program would expire completely. More importantly, the long-term reform legislation is positioned well for passage this summer.
Speaking of grassroots successes, it is time once again for NAA members to schedule meetings with their local members of Congress during the upcoming five-week August recess. Every year we identify a top legislative issue and ask our members to carry the message to their Representatives and Senators. This long break is a great opportunity, but the days fill up fast so please schedule those meetings now. Remember that every connection with a member of Congress does not have to be a formal sit-down meeting. Invite them to a barbeque or pool party at your community or offer them a tour. All interactions help build that relationship and expand policymakers’ knowledge about our industry. Go to the NAA Government Affairs website for more information: www.naahq.org/governmentaffairs.
I know that many of our local affiliates have undertaken their own public relations efforts to spread positive messages about apartment living and the apartment industry generally. NAA and our partner, the National Multi-Housing Council, have developed a series of pre-developed advertisements to help. They focus on job creation and other benefits from apartments. All are four-color ads and can be personalized with your affiliate’s logo. We will ship these on CD to all NAA affiliates very soon, so keep an eye out for them. In addition, member companies can view the ads on the Government Affairs’ website where there will be instructions to order the CD. Please give us any feedback on the ads so we can continue to improve them for future use.
That’s it for this month. Talk to you in August.