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The National Apartment Association (NAA) and National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC), David Schwartz, chairman and CEO of Waterton and chair of NMHC testified this past Friday before the House Committee on Financial Services at a hearing entitled Protecting Renters During the Pandemic: Reviewing Reforms to Expedite Emergency Rental Assistance on the urgent reforms needed to the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP).

NAA and NMHC say they commend the work of lawmakers in creating ERAP and appreciate the ongoing efforts to ensure the ability of rental assistance funds to serve those in need. After unprecedented challenges over the past 18 months—creating significant hardships for America’s renters and jeopardizing the stability of the housing sector—it is critical that the program’s execution and distribution be urgently improved.

ERAP is critical for residents and housing providers alike and is the most effective eviction mitigation tool at our disposal, the organizations say. This is especially true where eviction moratoriums shifted the economic hardships of the pandemic to housing providers, creating severe uncertainty for the apartment sector.

Schwartz’s written testimony provides detailed recommendations for unlocking the flow of ERAP funds and addressing barriers to the delivery of relief to those in need. In particular, NAA and NMHC support efforts to help jurisdictions ramp up delivery of rental assistance benefits, including streamlining onerous application and documentation requirements, ensuring eligibility aligns with those residents in need of support, leveraging housing provider capabilities to assist with the application process and embracing practices and technologies with proven operational success.

Importantly, NAA and NMHC caution against the imposition of new program requirements unrelated to the accelerated distribution of funds that further or create new barriers to participation in ERAP programs.

NAA and NMHC will continue to partner with policymakers at all levels of government on addressing the challenges of COVID-19, while advancing proven solutions for long-term housing affordability. They will also continue to work with residents to keep them safely and stably housed and assist those in need to secure rental assistance, say the organizations. Urgent action to reform ERAP is necessary before apartment residents are faced with further uncertainty and an ever-mounting debt cliff while housing providers face further losses, foreclosure, bankruptcy and even removal of the property from the rental stock, the organizations stated.

Source: National Apartment Association