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AOBA Statement on Tuesday's Vote on DC Public Health Emergency Legislation

News ,

We are disappointed and alarmed that the DC Council decided to amend Chairman Mendelson’s proposed emergency legislation, Bill 24-258, the "Coronavirus Public Health Extension Emergency Amendment Act of 2021" yesterday.

Chairman Mendelson’s strategy for accelerating the distribution of federal rental assistance strikes the right balance. He is calling for specific improvements in the administration of the STAY DC program, which we support, while also lifting the "filing moratorium" to create a sense of urgency for everyone to work together.  And the situation is urgent. If 65% of the first half of federal rental assistance is not used by September 30th, it must be returned to the Federal government.

Thirty percent of our members’ residents are not participating in the application process and may not realize that that the clock is ticking on how long they have the opportunity to do so. If housing providers are restored the ability to file for collection of rent with the Courts, tenants will be notified they owe the rent.  At the same time, they should be notified that there is rental assistance for them to pay the rent owed. 

Those who claim that lifting the "filing moratorium" now will result in mass evictions are wrong.  Even in times when there is no rental assistance available 95% of notices to collect rent are resolved and tenants remain in their apartments. Today, with all the federal rental assistance available, 100% of eligible tenants can pay the rent owed and stay in their homes. However, they must work with their housing providers to apply for the money. No application means no assistance.

Councilmembers who claim that housing providers do not support Chairman Mendelson’s two-pronged approach to accelerating the distribution of these one-time funds because we have identified glitches in the administration of the STAY DC program – which the Executive branch is working to fix - are disingenuous or misguided. 

In jurisdictions such as Virginia where housing providers are allowed access to the Courts, tenant cooperation in the application process is much more robust and applications have been submitted.

DC needs to continue to make the STAY DC program stronger and provide assistance to tenants who need help with the process, but also provide access to the Courts so that tenants who are not responsive are alerted that the rent is due, and help is available.  

AOBA members are owners or managers of commercial and multifamily residential properties, as well as companies that provide products and services to the real estate industry. Currently, the combined portfolio of AOBA's membership is approximately 185 million square feet of commercial office space and more than 400,000 residential units in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia.

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