Real Estate

Apartment List: Housing legislation can’t make it through Congress

Out of 10,222 bills introduced so far this term, only 115 had to do with housing

Out of the 10,222 bills introduced so far in the 115th Congress, only 115 of those had to do with housing and of those 115, not a one made it to the Oval Office.

According to a report from Apartment List, despite growing national concern regarding the housing affordability crisis, what few potential solutions are being put forth, can’t make through Congress because they are not a priority.

Renters especially are getting little to no attention in the legislative branch as of the meager 115 bills brought to the House and Senate floors, only 28 had anything to do with renters.

Right now, 34.6% of Americans are renters. Of the renter cohort, 17.1% of them are cost burdened, meaning that they spend 30% or more of their incomes on housing, and 8.5% of the cost burdened category are severely burdened, spending 50% or more of their incomes on housing costs.

This problem is exacerbated by rising rents, a lack of affordable housing supply and stagnant wages.

The problem is in desperate need of addressing. To be fair, some members of Congress are addressing the issue of affordability, and about two weeks ago there was a hearing to discuss regulatory costs on the multifamily industry and housing affordability.

Also, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, recently introduced a pair of bills that would drastically change the housing finance landscape, specifically the roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but with the midterm election approaching, it's unlikely that either bill will gain any traction in the near future.

So, it appears that Congress and the industry are far from achieving and implementing a viable solution.

The multifamily industry is pushing for a 5% decrease in construction costs and asking that Congress help by reducing or streamlining regulations.

There is evidence that rent growth is slowing, but it is still growing and the affordability issues are more acute than the average would suggest in more densely populated areas and known job nodes.

As the share of renters continues to grow and the makeup of housing in the U.S. shifts away from ownership, it will become more urgent than it already is to find a solution for the nation’s affordable housing woes.

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