IREM Blogs

Mueller Testimony Can’t Eclipse IREM’s Congressional Briefing

August 14, 2019 | Ted Thurn

While some members of Congress were attending Robert Mueller’s testimony on July 24th, 75 Congressional staffers attended IREM’s Congressional Briefing in D.C. Amy Hedgecock, CPM, IREM’s Legislative and Public Policy (LPP) Committee Chair, points out that “It’s important to have these events, as it allows us an opportunity to directly communicate property management issues to the people writing and voting on the legislation that affects our industry.”

Three topics were on the agenda: Hedgecock, who is with Fowler & Fowler Realtors in High Point, NC, presented on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). LPP Vice Chair, Debbie Prejeant, CPM, of Latter and Blum, AMO, in New Orleans, spoke on assistance animals, and Federal Housing Advisory Board member, Michael Simmons, CPM, of Community Realty Management, Inc., AMO, in Pleasantville, NJ, made the case for legislation favorable to affordable housing.

Regarding NFIP, Hedgecock pointed out that IREM supports long-term reauthorization and reform of the program to ensure its ongoing sustainability. NFIP has received 12 short-term extensions since 2017. IREM is asking legislators to include the following provisions: reauthorization for at least five years; flood mapping at higher resolutions with a streamlined and less expensive appeal process; premiums accurately priced to property-specific risk, with any rate increases introduced gradually; and private flood insurance options encouraged where cost effective, provided that NFIP remains a viable option.

Prejeant explained to staffers the difference between service animals and assistance animals. A service animal is any dog (or miniature horse) trained to perform specific tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability. Assistance animals, also known as companion animals, receive no specialized training and are typically for those in need of emotional support.

“We are asking guidance from HUD on the issue of assistance animals as many of our members are encountering challenges with this issue” stated Prejeant. “These challenges include certification letters being purchased on-line, multiple animals for a single resident, and animals living in “pet free” communities.”

IREM is asking the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which oversees the assistance animal issue, to consider the following: require documentation from a third party who has, or has had, a therapeutic relationship with the requester; allow the property manager to verify the authenticity of any submitted documentation; require an explanation as to why a restricted breed is needed versus another breed; require the applicant requesting multiple assistance animals show a separate and distinct disability-related need for each animal; and specify the resident is liable for any damages or disruptions caused by the animal

On federally assisted housing, Simmons communicated how IREM supports affording every American the opportunity to live in safe, decent, and sanitary housing. He shared IREM’s concern that insufficient funding for HUD could eliminate homes for vulnerable citizens. Of the nation’s 1.4 million units of multifamily assisted housing stock, 450,000 units are at risk of withdrawing from assisted housing because owners opting out of the program, maturation of the assisted mortgages, or failure of the property to meet HUD’s standards.

“IREM CPM members manage nearly 40% of all U.S. federally-assisted housing units and 25% of all U.S. public housing units, so it’s important that we discuss these issues with legislators and their staff on a continual basis” said Simmons.

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About the Author
Ted Thurn is director of government affairs at IREM Headquarters in Chicago.

Photo credit: YangYin

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