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Why Immediate Rent Payment Assistance is Absolutely Critical

Posted By: Jon Lowder Blog ,

PTAA, along with the National Apartment Association, the Apartment Association of North Carolina and other apartment associations around the country, have been advocating loudly and strongly for months rent payment assistance is a critical component of the country's economic recovery. While some housing advocates have been pushing for rent forgiveness we have pointed out that is unfair to landlords and creates a financial burden that could decimate the housing industry and lead to even greater housing shortages in the immediate future. As Adam Skolnik, the Executive Director of the Maryland Mult-Housing Association was quoted in the Washington Post, "He said the association would like to see more rental assistance for tenants, so that landlords can still get paid: “I don’t see anyone clamoring to let people go into Giant and Harris Teeter and get food and not have to pay for it.”

The reality is that just about every city in the United States has been experiencing an affordable housing crisis for years; there simply aren't enough housing units to keep up with the demand. The COVID-19 crisis has taken an existing problem and thrown gas on the fire; what was a slow-moving crisis has been turned into a potential overnight catastrophe. What has prevented that from happening until now was not just the eviction moratorium, it was a combination of the government's CARES Act programs, including the $600 unemployment benefit. Now that the benefit is expiring, far more households will struggle to pay their bills, including rent, and that is why we suddenly have a potential eviction crisis. The most straightforward way to prevent that from happening is for Congress to move quickly on a rent payment assistance package.

If you want to look a little deeper into this issue a good place to start is this MarketWatch article, which provides an overview of the issue and some of the proposals being floated to deal with it. Here's an excerpt:

Progressive activists and trade associations that represent landlords agree that lawmakers need to go further in terms of addressing renters’ needs amid the pandemic.

“A robust rental assistance program is the only policy that both addresses the basic need of housing for renters and ensures apartment owners can pay the bills to keep rental housing operational,” Greg Brown, senior vice president of government relations at the National Apartment Association, told MarketWatch in an e-mail.

Brown argued that apartment owners have aimed to avoid evictions by offering payment plans and waiving late fees. “Unchecked claims of mass evictions have consequences that steer policymakers’ attention away from the policy we desperately need to keep America’s 43 million renters safely housed and the apartment industry solvent — emergency rental assistance,” Brown said.

For more information on NAA's position on COVID-19 policies you can visit this very informative page at NAA's site