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June 5, 2015
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High Court to Decide Big Housing Case

Copyright: dianaduda

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hand down several major civil rights decisions this month before its current term ends. They ruled this week that Abercrombie & Fitch discriminated against a job applicant because the company didn’t offer a religious accommodation to a Muslim teenager wearing a head scarf, even though she didn’t request an accommodation. The teenager’s head scarf was a violation of the company’s “look policy.”

In a case that the multifamily industry is watching carefully, the High Court may also decide the fate of disparate impact liability under the Fair Housing Act.

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Be Heard! HUD Proposes Fair Market Rent Change

This week, HUD released a proposed rule to use 40th percentile Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) instead of 50th percentile Fair Market Rents (FMRs) for certain metropolitan areas. The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program uses FMRs to establish maximum allowable rents the government will pay to a private apartment owner who rents to a family with a voucher. The proposal calls for certain areas to use the SAFMRs, versus the FMRs, methodology. This means that FMR would be set by the zip code and not by the metropolitan area.

We are in the process of preparing a response to the proposal and would like to hear from you.

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NMHC Insider
House Amendment Would Prohibit Disparate Impact
During consideration of the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (THUD) budget for FY 2016, Representative Scott Garrett (R-NJ) introduced an amendment this week that would prohibit the use of funds to implement, administer or enforce the disparate impact rule. At issue for apartment owners and managers is that under the 2013 rule, seemingly neutral and common business policies, such as criminal background screening, could trigger discrimination claims despite no intention of singling out a particular group for adverse treatment.
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White House Announces Controversial Water Rule is a Done Deal
On May 27, the Obama Administration announced the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers’ (Corps) controversial “Waters of the U.S.” final rule. The rule is intended to clarify the scope of waters that are subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The multifamily industry supports a strong Clean Water Act to protect the quality of the nation’s valuable water resources. Access to clean water is essential for healthy communities and a strong economy. However, the EPA and Corps have failed to fully assess the financial impact of the rule on the economy, including the supply of affordable housing. NMHC/NAA issued a statement responding to the announcement.
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Senate Extends Tax Reform Work, House Tables Carried Interest
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) granted the panel’s five tax reform working groups an extension on May 21. The groups had originally been charged with making recommendations by the end of May. Tax reform continues to be a key issue for the multifamily industry because real estate depends on the free-flow of capital and after-tax rates of return.
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HUD Gets Answers on Violence Against Women Act Proposal
This spring, HUD published a proposed rule that would fully implement the 2013 Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization (VAWA), which includes housing provisions. The proposal asked for feedback on establishing emergency transfer provisions, documentation standards, and requirements for apartment firms to distribute property-wide disclosures of domestic violence incidents at resident application, move-in and lease termination.
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Congress Gets Serious About Energy Efficiency
Lawmakers are continuing consideration of diverse energy legislation this week, which included a House Committee hearing discussing the “Energy Savings and Building Efficiency Act” on June 3. The hearing, in part, also examined a solution to newly proposed furnace efficiency standards that could pose significant retrofit barriers in apartment communities. The multifamily industry supports efforts to help owners and managers improve the energy performance of their properties. However, we oppose accomplishing energy efficiency through burdensome building codes or other regulatory mandates.
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Industry Keeps Pushing for Full Funding of Key Census Survey
As Congress continues to debate the FY 2016 federal budget, funding of the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) is still in jeopardy. The ACS is important to the multifamily industry because it helps in estimating the economic impact of apartments and provides the latest relevant data.
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Save the Date: House Speaker John Boehner to Address NMHC Fall Board Meeting
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will address the NMHC Fall Board Meeting to be held September 15-17 at The Fairmont Hotel in Washington, DC. Specifically, Speaker Boehner is scheduled to speak at the corresponding NMHC luncheon on Capitol Hill on September 17. This meeting brings together senior apartment executives from the industry’s leading firms, offering attendees an invaluable opportunity to candidly share information and insights, debate issues of common interest, and hear from top-ranking congressional and Obama Administration leaders.

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NMHC Covers the Bases on Capitol Hill
Key multifamily priorities continue to receive congressional consideration and NMHC is on the front lines working on behalf of the industry.
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Hill Watch
House Subcommittee hearing entitled, "Reviewing the Rules and Regulations Implementing Federal Wage and Hour Standard," on Wed., June 10 at 10:30 a.m.
Senate Subcommittee hearing entitled, "Wasteful Spending in the Federal Government: An Outside Perspective," on Wed., June 10 at 2:30 p.m.
House Committee hearing entitled, "Oversight of FCC Field Offices," on Thurs., June 11 at 10 a.m.
Media Roundup
The Campaign to Put Julian Castro on Hillary Clinton's VP Shortlist
White House to Senate: Scuttle "Marriage Penalty" on Basic Allowance for Housing
Stars and Stripes
Federal Court Blocks Obama's Immigration Plan
USA Today
Texas Court Upholds Labor Board's Union Election Rule
The Hill
Tired of Waiting for U.S. to Act, States Pass Crowdfunding Laws and Rules
New York Times
San Francisco Rejects Luxury Housing Moratorium
Wall Street Journal
With "Deplorable" Conditions for Some Renters, Long Beach Debates Inspections
Los Angeles Times
The Scoop
Some Left Exhausted – Already – by the 2016 Presidential Race

With a jam packed roster of 2016 Presidential contenders, many are exhausted by the possibility of a long, drawn out race that is likely to, according to Roll Call, simply “wind up with a well-telegraphed grudge match between two languishing political dynasties.”

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