Federal Advocacy Outlook: Advocate 2023

The latest in federal advocacy as the rental housing industry convenes in Washington, D.C., to promote responsible affordability solutions.

By Greg Brown and Nicole Upano |

4 minute read

The 118th Congress Convenes 

While Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives in early 2023 as expected, no one foresaw the razor-thin four-seat majority (222–213). In the Senate, Republicans were only given a roughly 50/50 chance of taking the chamber, but few expected them to not only pick up zero seats but lose an incumbent seat when now-Senator John Fetterman (D) defeated Mehmet Oz (R) to replace retiring GOP Senator Pat Toomey. This gave the Democrats the majority, which was further padded with the Georgia runoff when Senator Raphael Warnock (D) won re-election over challenger Herschel Walker (R). The predicted red wave ultimately never came to fruition, yet despite the narrow Republican majority in the House, divided government has returned to Washington. 

The 118th Congress convened as the National Apartment Association (NAA) achieved a key victory at the end of the last Congress: An $85 million competitive grant program based on the Yes In My Backyard (YIMBY) Act. The program will reward state, local and regional jurisdictions that have made progress in improving inclusionary zoning practices, land use policies and housing infrastructure to increase the supply of affordable housing. The law also directs the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to issue best practices for local, state and regional agencies to improve such opportunities for housing development. 

White House Launches Renter Protections Plan

 As divided government returns to the nation’s capital, NAA has long expected increased regulatory action by the Biden Administration as their options to advance their agenda through Congress have become much more limited. 

On Jan. 25, 2023, the White House outlined a blueprint for a “Renters Bill of Rights.” Their announcement followed months of engagement between NAA and the White House, alongside other industry organizations. NAA’s mission throughout this process was to maintain a seat at the table and prevent punitive actions against housing providers like national rent control. 

From the beginning, NAA emphasized the industry’s opposition to expanded federal involvement in the landlord/tenant relationship. Ultimately, NAA’s advocacy helped avert immediate policy changes. NAA’s efforts will continue as multiple federal agencies explore housing policy changes on a variety of topics, as directed in the White House’s plan. 

Read NAA’s in-depth analysis of the White House’s plan

Advancing Responsible Solutions 

Looking ahead, NAA remains fully focused on advancing sustainable and responsible solutions that address the root cause of housing affordability challenges: A lack of housing supply at all price points. Recent NAA research, conducted jointly with the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), underscores this reality, emphasizing our nation’s need to build 4.3 million more apartments by 2035 to address affordability, demand and an existing deficit of apartment homes. 

To reach this important goal, NAA strongly advocates for reducing barriers to apartment development and revitalizing programs that directly address renter financial insecurity, like HUD’s Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. To be clear, reaching a milestone of 4.3 million more apartments by 2035 will take policymakers at every level of government to take action – including lawmakers in Congress. 

Efforts to improve the HCV program have already been reintroduced in the Senate. On Jan. 25, 2023, Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) reintroduced the bipartisan Choice in Affordable Housing Act (S. 32), legislation that seeks to revitalize the HCV Program by expanding incentives, removing burdensome overregulation and ultimately improving outcomes for low- and moderate-income renters. 

Endorsing the bill, NAA President and CEO Bob Pinnegar signaled optimism, emphasizing that “by speeding-up resident approval processes, reducing duplicative inspections requirements and providing better ongoing support for housing provider participants, the Choice in Affordable Housing Act will encourage more voluntary participation from the industry and, most importantly, increase positive outcomes for participating owners and residents alike.” 

The Power of Advocacy 

In order to make a lasting impact for the rental housing industry, your participation is paramount to make sure lawmakers hear the power and impact of responsible solutions. 

Join us at NAA’s annual Advocate Conference, March 28–29 in Washington, D.C. We need your help to break the gridlock that could slow passage of critical legislation around housing affordability. Urge your members of Congress to: 

  • Oppose federal efforts to interfere into the landlord-tenant relationship and use carrots, not sticks, to increase rental affordability and housing choice for renters; 

  • Improve HUD’s HCV program to attract and better serve private sector rental housing providers; 

  • Incentivize local governments to lower barriers to development and increase the supply of rental housing; and 

  • End the CARES Act 30-day notice-to-vacate requirement for federally backed and federally assisted rental properties. 

Learn more about Advocate

Greg Brown is NAA’s SVP, Government Affairs & Nicole Upano is NAA’s AVP, Housing Policy & Regulatory Affairs.