The past year continued to present a number of challenges for our members. Although some semblance of normality returned in 2021, COVID was still a major presence in our daily lives and in the policy decisions being made at the federal, state, and local levels. However, just as we did in 2020, the IREM Government Affairs team, along with our coalition industry partners, continued to lead our advocacy efforts for securing support and relief for the property management industry.
CDC eviction moratorium
One of our biggest wins in 2021 was the ending of the federal eviction moratorium. On Aug. 26, in a 6–3 ruling, a majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices agreed that the stay on a lower court’s order finding the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) eviction moratorium to be unlawful was no longer justified.
IREM applauded the Supreme Court’s decision, as it was the correct one from both a legal standpoint and as a matter of objective fairness. It brought an end to an unlawful policy that had placed financial hardship solely on the shoulders of mom-and-pop housing providers, who supply nearly half of all rental housing in America. The decision restores property rights in America.
After the Supreme Court’s decision, IREM then quickly moved over to our ongoing work with the Biden Administration and Congress regarding the distribution of funds for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). Although funds are being distributed at a more rapid pace, we continue to work with government agencies to break down the barriers in ERAP that unnecessarily complicate getting program funds into the hands of struggling renters and housing providers.
IREM was also at the forefront with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) and the Build Back Better proposal. The $1.75 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was signed by President Biden on Nov. 15, 2021, included nearly $550 billion in new spending, such as $110 billion to repair the nation’s highways, bridges, and roads. It also earmarked $39 billion for public transit and $65 billion for broadband access, which aims to improve internet services for rural areas, low-income families, and tribal communities.
The Build Back Better proposal, also known as the reconciliation bill, was passed in the House on Nov. 19 and includes funding for the following housing programs:
- $65 billion for public housing programs
- $25 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to construct and rehabilitate affordable homes for low-income families, and $750 million for a new Housing Investment Fund to leverage private-sector investments to create and preserve affordable homes
- $24 billion for housing choice vouchers and support services, including for individuals at risk of homelessness and for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault
- $10 billion to offer down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers, and $5 billion for a home loan program to subsidize 20-year mortgages for first-generation homebuyers
However, the bill didn’t include several tax revenue proposals which would have been detrimental to our industry, such as 1031 like-kind exchange limits, capital gains tax increases, changes to step-up in basis, taxes on unrealized capital gains, an increased estate tax, and carried-interest provisions.
2021 advocacy initiatives
Besides the eviction moratorium, ERAP, and the infrastructure proposals, the IREM Government Affairs team has been busy advocating for even more of our industry’s interests during the past year. Although the following doesn’t capture all of the team’s initiatives, it does provide a brief overview of the actions achieved:
- 8,300 messages sent to legislators since the pandemic began. Engaging with legislators is critical at all levels of government. Our calls to action have allowed members to contact their legislators with the click of a button.
- 81 letters sent during the COVID crisis. IREM has signed onto letters to Congress and other government agencies advocating for relief for the real estate industry.
- Congressional briefing. In July 2021, over 400 IREM members and 58 Congressional Offices attended this virtual event to learn about 1031 like-kind exchanges and affordable housing.
- Chapter presentations. Education is critical to advocacy. In 2021, the IREM Government Affairs team presented to 15 Chapters on topics such as eviction moratoria, rental assistance, and cannabis laws.
- Over 100 meetings with legislators and other officials. IREM’s advocacy efforts go beyond grassroots engagement. The Government Affairs team routinely meets with officials to advocate on our members’ behalf.
- Working with over 400 industry organizations. IREM works with coalitions of organizations such as NAR, NAA, NMHC, and BOMA to amplify our voices and effect greater change.
Advocacy Impact Day
IREM is going back to Washington D.C., on March 8–9, 2022, for our Advocacy Impact Day! Our fly-in event offers members an opportunity to meet with their federal legislators in-person and advocate for issues critical to the real estate management industry.
Registration opens in early January, so keep an eye out for an email with more details. However, you may want to book your travel soon. Further information about social distancing protocols and other pertinent details about Advocacy Impact Day will also be provided.
Meeting with lawmakers in Washington is critical for the future health and growth of the industry, and IREM is making it as easy as possible to make your voice heard. Legislators are more likely to support positions that their constituents feel strongly about, which is why it’s important for members to engage with their legislators. Participating in Advocacy Impact Day allows members to build relationships with legislators that will only increase in value over time. It’s a chance to speak directly to the people with the power to change laws and regulations about issues that matter to you, your business, and the clients you represent. Attending will also provide valuable exposure and experience as well as the opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself.
IREM will continue to be a leader in advocacy, as it’s always a top priority for our members, their businesses, and their clients. The IREM Government Affairs team has a number of initiatives planned for 2022, including the Advocacy Impact Day, Congressional Briefing, quarterly webinars, and in-district meetings. We’ll also continue providing members with valuable resources such as the Public Policy Priorities, Policy Statements, Government Affairs Digest, and updates from our Advocacy Action Center.