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A Balanced Housing Policy, Carried Interest, Energy Efficiency Incentives, and the Union “Card Check” Proposal Are Also Key Issues

Dollar sign2Restoring access to capital is the highest legislative priority of the apartment industry in 2009, according to the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) and National Apartment Association (NAA).

The two organizations, working together through their Joint Legislative Program, will also focus their attention on ways to craft a smarter, more balanced federal housing policy in response to the excesses that occurred in the single-family mortgage market.

NMHC/NAA released their 2009 public policy agenda today as part of NAAs annual Capitol Conference, which brings hundreds of apartment professionals to Washington, DC for personal meetings with lawmakers.

“Over the next two years, an estimated $60-$80 billion in multifamily mortgages will mature and need to be refinanced,” said Jim Arbury, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for NMHC/NAA. “But with credit markets virtually collapsed because of the single-family meltdown, apartment owners who are meeting their financial obligations but whose mortgages mature in 2009 and 2010 face difficulties. And without credit, construction of new apartments has virtually stalled at a time when the percentage of Americans who rent is growing and the national homeownership rate is dropping.”

“Most of the financial problems our country now faces were caused by the excessive embrace of homeownership,” added Douglas Culkin, CAE, NAA President. “We need a more balanced housing policy. Our country has serious housing needs right now that simply cant be met through a ˜homeownership only housing policy.”

In addition to restoring the apartment sector’s access to capital and highlighting the need for a balanced housing policy, NMHC/NAA will weigh in on other important issues throughout 2009, including:

Carried Interest. NMHC/NAA believe that Congressional efforts to raise taxes on certain hedge fund income should not include real estate partnerships. Hedge funds are fundamentally different in mission and scope than real estate partnerships. Taxing the subsequent gain on the sale of the apartment asset as ordinary income, as some have proposed, would have a severely negative effect on the production of affordable rental housing.

Green Building/Energy Efficiency. NMHC/NAA urge policymakers to consider all avenues for achieving sustainability in the residential sector, not only issues related to the building shell and mechanical systems governed by building codes.

More significant indicators of building sustainability include population density, proximity to public transportation, resource conservation including electricity, water and materials (recycling), and rigorous operations and maintenance practices.

The just-released National Green Building Standard, which offers uniform guidance on green building practices that are appropriate for low-rise, mid-rise, and high-rise apartment buildings, is the best route to increased energy efficiency in new residential construction.

Union “Card Check” Proposal. NMHC/NAA believe that the proposed “card check” legislation that labor unions support could change the entire culture of the American workplace, tipping the balance overwhelmingly in favor of unions at a considerable cost to business and employees. It would also render a reasonable collective bargaining process moot, so NMHC/NAA encourage lawmakers to reject the legislation in its current form.

“In any given year, there are 30 or more issues in Congress that can affect the health of the rental housing market,” added Arbury. “We use these Capitol Hill visits to educate Members of Congress on these and other issues crucial to the apartment sector.”

Other important issues that will be targeted by NMHC/NAA in 2009 are outlined in the 2009 NMHC/NAA Legislative & Regulatory Priorities booklet posted at

See our related feature, Expanded TALF Will Encourage Real Estate Investment.

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