Act Now

Executive Editor Paul Rosta The national news has...
Executive Editor Paul Rosta
Executive Editor Paul Rosta

The national news has been pretty noisy this winter, so you’ll be relieved to know that this month’s column is guaranteed 100 percent rancor-free. Yet as I was reading the excellent special report on fair housing in this issue by MHN Contributing Editor Amanda Marsh, I couldn’t help noticing that recent events offer surprising and, thank goodness, entirely nonpartisan lessons for the multifamily sector.

One of Marsh’s insights is that the direction of federal fair housing policy temporarily remains uncertain as a new administration settles in. Plenty of other matters are at stake during the next couple of years, as well. That raises the question: What issues affecting the multifamily industry matter most to you? What’s going to affect your business? How about low-income housing tax credits, criminal background checks, the government-sponsored enterprises? And, needless to say, don’t neglect what’s happening in your own backyard; state and municipal policies have at least as much influence on the multifamily business as anything that happens in Washington, D.C.

The national multifamily organizations will undoubtedly do yeoman’s work as they pursue wide-ranging agendas, but they can’t do it alone. And here is where I think the demonstrations, phone calls and town halls this raucous winter offer a compelling reminder: When voters talk, elected officials listen.

But here’s a challenge. Vital as they are, policies that affect the multifamily sector tend to be relatively unsensational. Considering everything else that lawmakers are grappling with these days, keeping the industry’s concerns on their agenda will almost certainly take more effort than usual.

Of course, you don’t need to join a picket line to make your voice heard. Legislators carefully track phone calls and emails from their constituents. If you feel especially strongly about an industry-related issue, why not request a meeting with your representative or a staff member? I’m only stating the obvious, but in a world where our days are already jammed with work, family and community obligations, carving out time for civic engagement poses a huge challenge.

As policy changes unfold, part of MHN’s mission will be to keep you informed on the developments that affect your business. And if you have expertise in a multifamily-related policy, I invite you to consider contributing a piece to the Viewpoint section on Let’s create a vibrant conversation together.

Originally appearing in the March 2017 issue of MHN.