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Fair Housing&#44 Legislative Issues Dominate NAR Meetings in DC

When the National Association of Realtors (NAR) convened in Washington, DC last week for its annual legislative meetings, IREM—as the NAR affiliate focused on real estate management—was well represented by its volunteer and staff leaders. The overriding themes of the NAR meetings were observance of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and key legislative issues being advocated on Capitol Hill.

Among the meeting’s speakers was HUD Secretary Ben Carson. One of the issues the secretary addressed was emotional support animals, which is a top public policy priority for IREM. The secretary criticized how some public housing residents have sought to have miniature horses, pigs and turtles recognized as emotional support animals without the involvement of qualified healthcare providers. In this regard, he commented on the questionable online certificates used to register emotional support animals. “Really it needs to be a legit healthcare provider that can document that there’s a true disability and that a support animal is needed,” Carson stated.

Secretary Carson also discussed what HUD is doing to tackle sexual harassment in housing. NAR members took this message to Capitol Hill last week, urging Congress to adopt sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under the Fair Housing Act.

Among other issues addressed at NAR’s legislative briefing were the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and net neutrality. NFIP is set to expire on July 31, 2018, and NAR is calling on its members to help push their legislators to reauthorize the program, as well as make some additional changes. “We can’t just kick the can down the road, we need meaningful reform,” Austin Perez, a senior policy representative for NAR said at the conference. “IREM has made this a key legislative agenda item for 2018 as well, as evidenced by members advocating for it during recent in-district Congressional visits by IREM members throughout the country.

As for net neutrality, NAR has long been an advocate for internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all content equally and block the ability to provide “fast lanes” for favored sites. As a result of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality policy, NAR is supporting legislation that would re-impose net neutrality and take its enforcement out of the hands of the FCC.

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