NMHC’s Géno Is Upbeat on HUD Moves to Boost Supply

The agency unveiled a series of steps after meeting with the organization.

Picture of Sharon Wilson Géno

Sharon Wilson Géno. Image courtesy of the National Multifamily Housing Council

National Multifamily Housing Council President Sharon Wilson Géno met with officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development last week to discuss ways to combat the nation’s need for housing. As may be expected, given the increasing demand for affordable, quality housing, the focus of the conversation revolved around ways regulatory and legislative measures could grow the U.S. housing supply.

The same week as the meeting, which was hosted by Deputy Secretary Adrianne Todman, the White House released a pair of new fact sheets suggesting actions that should be taken towards protecting tenants.

“NMHC is committed to lowering the cost of housing while broadening housing availability and equity,” Géno told Multi-Housing News in an interview. “To do that, the path forward is clear. We need more housing supply. We continue to work with leading policymakers in the Biden administration as well as those in Congress in concert with apartment residents and housing providers to find policy solutions that achieve those goals.”

There is significant need for additional housing supply across the nation, with the shortage of supply most prominently impacting those in need of affordable living arrangements. The shortage of affordable homes available to renters increased to 7.3 million in 2021, according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“There is so much that all sides agree on and the need for housing is so great, so I am hopeful all sides can come together to support policies that work,” said Géno.

The options discussed at NMHC and HUD’s meeting all fall within HUD’s existing authority and would not require new legislation. The White House’s next steps towards tenant protections and housing supply only apply to public housing and Section 8 properties.

Actions to lower housing costs and increase development

In conjunction with the meeting, the Biden administration announced actions aimed at increasing the development of new housing supply and lowering the cost of housing. These actions are in line with the “Renters Bill of Rights” and “Housing Supply Action Plan”, which the White House released last year.

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The actions outlined in the fact sheet, which address land use and zoning barriers, include a call to:

  • Reduce restrictive and costly land use and zoning rules to encourage housing development
  • Increase the financing available for affordable housing, energy efficient housing and resilient housing
  • Encourage residential conversion projects, especially for affordable and zero emissions communities

In support of these actions, the administration is promoting steps such as improving transportation access to housing, streamlining affordable housing financing, repairing existing affordable housing and funding research supporting commercial to residential conversions.

Actions to protect renters

New actions designed to protect renters were announced alongside actions for lowering housing costs and promoting new development. The administration’s actions for renter protection include:

  • Ensuring residents can address incorrect tenant screening reports
  • Providing new funding towards tenant organization efforts
  • Ensuring renters are given a fair notice ahead of eviction

Along with these actions, outlined steps towards resident protection in the fact sheet released by the administration also include increasing resident engagement requirements and prioritizing engagement with tenants, tenant organizers and advocacy organizations.

The guidelines for both lowering housing costs and increasing renter protection build upon the existing Housing Supply Action Plan as well as the crackdown on ‘junk fees’ announced this month.

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