GCAA's Open Letter to NC & SC Congressional Delegations
The GCAA recently sent a letter to its North & South Carolina Congressional delegations expressing deep concern over the negative impact the eviction moratoria has had on our members...
Open Letter to our Congressional Delegations in North & South Carolina,
In the 18 months since COVID-19 brought life as we know it to a screeching halt, we’ve all been wondering if this nightmare will ever end. Many of our members were in Washington, DC, advocating for the multifamily industry in the halls of Congress, when the first shelter-in-place orders came down. As we scrambled to arrange travel back to our respective homes, none of us could’ve imagined that we would still be here today fighting for the viability of our industry.
The road has been very painful for apartment owners, as onsite teams have worked tirelessly on the front lines to ensure their properties were COVID-compliant while also completing every function that was normally required of them daily. Industry suppliers faced uncertain futures with leasing offices shuttering to maintain the social distancing required to prevent the spread of the virus only possibly. If that wasn’t enough, the federal moratorium on evictions came without any mechanism for properties to recoup unpaid rent.
After nine months of calls to action and threats of lawsuits from our industry, Congress finally passed a bill that included rental assistance. But rather than giving rental housing providers the right to request payments on behalf of their residents, residents were relied upon to submit funding requests. This fundamental failure of policy has resulted in just 12 percent of rental assistance being distributed to-date.
Meanwhile, our industry is suffering because there’s a longstanding lack of compassion for those who provide rental housing. That lack of compassion is combined with a generation’s long effort to reform the eviction system in our country. And, it just feels as if someone in power has decided that this is the perfect storm to right the ship on evictions. How unfortunate is it that the COVID-19 crisis would be used to dismantle the very industry responsible for providing safe and decent housing for more than 44 million residents in the United States.
Yet, here we are, many extensions later. No end in sight to COVID or its variants. $46 billion in unpaid rent. 88% of assistance as yet undistributed. Countless “mom and pop” owners pushed to the brink of foreclosure and beyond. Tens of thousands of naturally occurring affordable housing units sold off to avoid bankruptcy. Fewer and fewer affordable rental homes available for the thousands of housing choice voucher holders in need. Insurmountable debt for the hundreds of thousands of renters who won’t be able to pay what has accumulated.
The reality is that nobody wins in an eviction. Not the owner or the renter. The individuals and families are negatively impacted, and the process is an enormous burden on the property owner. Eviction is always the last option after everything else has been exhausted. These are desperate times for owners, large and small, as they struggle to pay debt service, wages, maintain operations, fight fatigue and frustration because they have been cast as the villain.
However, there is a silver lining here. You can be the Hero. How, you ask? By supporting shifting the responsibility of submitting rental assistance requests from the renter to the owner; by creating a fund to cover the unrecouped debts that are more than $46 billion for the multifamily industry – averting mass foreclosures; and by not extending the moratorium beyond October 3, 2021, without immediately authorizing additional funding sufficient to cover new rent debts.
Greater Charlotte Apartment Association