Local: Governmental Affairs

Care to join this committee?  Call Karen in the SLAA office at 314-205-8844.  

Governmental Affairs, November 2021

As the eviction moratorium ends, the fact that we are still very much, facing an affordable housing crisis is becoming even more apparent. The federal eviction moratoriums did nothing to address the underlying financial distress of renters and could have long-term implications for the stability of the housing industry. This coupled with the push back the labor force is feeling from decades of low and stagnant wages; it seems almost certain that significant changes are coming to the multifamily housing industry. 

Congress is now being asked to make these issues a priority and it’s the belief of some, that we need to strike while the iron is hot. The fact that our industry was the only one completely “held hostage”, might give us leverage we need to push back. 

Congressional Priorities: Read more

National Updates, FEMA

The Biden administration announced on November 9 that FEMA will continue to cover the full costs of COVID-19 response activities eligible under FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program through April 1, 2022. The 100% cost reimbursement includes costs associated with non-congregate sheltering for individuals experiencing homelessness. In an executive order issued in January 2021, President Biden directed FEMA to cover 100% of approved costs. He extended the guidance through the end of the year. Read more

State News:

More than 2,800 evictions have been filed in Jackson County so far in 2021. Legal aid attorneys expect those numbers to increase now that the federal eviction moratorium efforts have ended. Across Missouri, 94,000 households were behind on rent as of early August. Read more

From the New York Times: 

By Glenn Thrush and Conor Dougherty

Published Sept. 10, 2021 and Updated Oct. 18, 2021

“For once, Washington seemed to get in front of a crisis"

Read more

Governmental Affairs, June 2021
National Level 
2020 and now 2021 present as unprecedented years in general, but multifamily housing was stricken with sweeping eviction moratoriums that stripped landlords of their ability to enforce rental contracts. Although NAA has been unsuccessful in attempts to have such orders repealed, they were successful in garnering attention for the need of rent relief which came in the form of Biden’s American Rescue Plan. This plan includes $46 billion in rental assistance. 
 
Today, June 24, 2021 the Biden Administration did extend the moratorium in order to “buy more time to distribute emergency housing aid…” The stated purpose of this extension is to prevent the “tsunami” of evictions anticipated at the lapse of the CDC Order. There does exist, however, some pushback to the extension as any continuation of the Order would allow more time for the Supreme Court to rule against the CDC on this and other COVID related issues. Such a ruling would affect executive actions during future crises by way of legal precedent. 
 
As it relates to the various pending suits regarding the CDC Order, we do not anticipate a decision in the DC District Court case (ALABAMA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS et al v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES et al) before June 30. We remain hopeful that the Supreme Court will rule on lifting the stay on Judge Friedrich’s order as it is a strategic play; will the Supreme Court make a decision before June 30, or wait to see if the CDC moves to extend and respond by lifting the stay on July 1. This would allow evictions for nonpayment that are protected by the CDC order to be processed. 
 
NAA is launching several grassroots campaigns centered around housing affordability issues currently being debated in Congress. As an Advocate, we are supporting the following issues and urge Congress to pass these bills:
  • Section 8 Reform Alert - Reforming Section 8 has been a long-sought-after legislative priority of the NAA. The Choice in Affordable Housing Act incentivizes the participation of the private rental housing industry in Section 8 HCV program by enacting critical reforms to the program.
 
  • Housing Affordability Alert - Congress is also considering two other pieces of legislation, the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act, and the Housing Supply and Affordability Act. These bills will mitigate the housing affordability crisis by helping to remove barriers to local development of housing.
Infrastructure:
The $1.2 trillion package purports to offer relief of the country’s declining condition of roads, bridges, waterways, and the like. There are assurance being made by the White House that a second infrastructure bill will move in tandem with this current, hard-infrastructure package. The second package is set to include over $200 billion in spending for housing. 
The issue that has drawn our attention is the possibility of elimination or curtailing 1031 or “like-kind” exchanges, changing the treatment of capital gains, treating a carried interest as ordinary income or radically altering present law tax treatment of estates at time of inheritance. The Administration has shown interest in all of these ideas, however, the tax writers in the House and Senate have yet to release any concrete plans and they are asserting their authority in this area, despite what the White House might want to do. NAA is part of several coalition efforts on these tax proposals. One of the more significant is in research to show the value and impact of 1031’s and why damaging this important tool would be disastrous for housing economies large and small around the country.
State Update
In Missouri, House Bill 16 has passed and been signed by Governor Parsons. It includes $410 million in federal funds for rental assistance. St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and Jefferson County have their own pots of money that properties should look to first. St. Charles County did not apply for direct funding and will be included in the statewide program. Funds at the local level must be spent by September 30, 2021, and if not spent by that time, the State can reallocate so the funds can be spent by December 31, 2021.
 
A total of 2,264 bills were filed this year. Only 70 passed, including the budget bills. That's a passage rate of just 3%. In a normal year, about 9% of the filed bills pass.
 
Worth noting, of the 70 bills passed, two bills have ancillary connection to our industry. House Bill 271 includes language prohibiting long-term business lockdowns in the event of another pandemic and Senate Bill 51 provides businesses with some immunity to lawsuits over COVID-19 exposure.
Other State Activity: 
Currently pending at the state level, is Senate Bill 12. This bill is of interest to our members on several levels but of particular interest is the provision regarding tax credits when their city or county imposes any city-wide or county-wide ordinance or order prohibiting or otherwise restricting the use of such taxpayer's real property. This would include, in part, occupancy restrictions wherein these business owners would receive a credit on property taxes owed on such affected real property.
Local Update:
In St. Louis County and St. Louis City, the presiding judges have issued orders that prevent people from being physically removed from their homes during the pandemic. These orders do not require a declaration form as with the CDC moratorium, but make an exception for drug or criminal activity. Despite the moratorium extension, Landlords have been successful in some evictions that include criminal activity or proper challenges to CDC / COVID affidavits that falsely purport a tenant’s impact from COVID without the ability to substantiate any such claims. 
 
The extension does not prevent the filing of eviction proceedings. Judgements are still being handed down and continue to await execution by local sheriffs’ office.
Moving Forward:
The focus of SLAA’s Governmental Affairs Committee this Summer will be to work with local leaders regarding the impact of the eviction moratorium, open discussions for crime prevention and reporting between properties and local law enforcement agencies and continue our support of NAA and their efforts to end the moratorium and pass a beneficial infrastructure package that helps to bring affordable and safe housing to our communities.