Welcome to FIVE FOR FRIDAY: A weekly roundup of Public Policy Issues and Headlines from around the Northern Virginia Region, the Commonwealth and on Capitol Hill.
1. Breaking News: Victory on Eviction Moratorium
The U.S. Supreme Court ended the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC’s) eviction moratorium Thursday night, giving much-needed relief to America’s small housing providers facing financial hardship for more than a year. In a 6-3 ruling, a majority of justices agreed that the stay on the lower court’s order finding the CDC’s eviction moratorium to be unlawful was no longer justified.
In their order, the justices wrote, “The moratorium has put the applicants, along with millions of landlords across the country, at risk of irreparable harm by depriving them of rent payments with no guarantee of eventual recovery. Despite the CDC’s determination that landlords should bear a significant financial cost of the pandemic, many landlords have modest means.”
The case was brought by the Georgia and Alabama Associations of REALTORS® and other property providers, with NAR’s help.
In a statement, NAR said of the ruling:
“This decision is the correct one, from both a legal standpoint and a matter of fairness. It brings to an end an unlawful policy that places financial hardship solely on the shoulders of mom-and-pop housing providers, who provide nearly half of all rental housing in America, and it restores property rights in America.
“No housing provider wants to evict a tenant—it is always a last resort and reserved for the rarest cases. The best solution for all parties is rental assistance, and all energy should go toward its swift distribution. Nearly $50 billion of aid is now available to cover up to a year-and-a-half of combined back and future rent and utilities for struggling tenants—and every state has started a program to distribute the funds.
“With this rental assistance, now is the time to return the housing sector to its former, healthy function. NAR is thankful for the Biden administration’s new guidance to speed up rental assistance distribution, which includes many NAR recommendations. We will continue to work with all parties to make that assistance readily accessible to tenants and housing providers.”
NAR cautions housing providers that some state and local governments may still have their own eviction moratoria in place. Stayed tuned to NAR, Virginia Realtors® and NVAR for the latest analysis on this finding and the impact in Virginia.
2. Northern Virginia leaders highlight affordable housing, transportation in Forum
Affordable housing and investment in transportation were among topics discussed Tuesday at the sixth annual Northern Virginia Regional Elected Leaders Summit at George Mason University in Arlington.
The event was hosted by several Northern Virginia chambers of commerce and sponsored by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors®. The panelists were Prince William Board of County Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall, Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol and Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.
3. FEMA overhauls the National Flood Insurance Program with Pricing 2.0
In conversation with Insurance Committee Chair Steven Fischer, FEMA Senior Executive David Maurstad provides an update on the new flood insurance pricing system - Risk Rating 2.0. Under the current program, the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides $1.3 trillion in coverage for more than 5 million policy holders in 23,500 communities nationwide. Homeowners in FEMA-designated flood zones are required to purchase flood insurance, but others do so voluntarily. Nearly one-third of NFIP policyholders are not mandated to carry it.
Starting on Oct. 1, the program will undergo a complete overhaul to make insurance pricing more accurately reflect each property’s unique flood risk. Finally, climate change will be factored in.
“No question that this is the most substantive change to the program going back to 1968,” said David Maurstad, deputy associate administrator for federal insurance and mitigation and senior executive of the flood insurance program
4. Transit is Ready for Recovery
While the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen forming weeks ahead of time, they always catch us by surprise. Though the Delta variant has added new uncertainty for post-Labor Day plans, we won’t despair-- we’re reminded that transit is so much more than the commute! Now’s a great time for everyone in the region to think about transit and multimodal connections for every trip.
Whether you’re headed to a concert, soccer game, dinner, or to visit friends— WMATA’s new service schedule, starting September 5th, will make trying transit easier than ever. Not only is WMATA continuing to maintain COVID-19 safety protocol, and make trains and buses safer with better air filtration, they’re also rolling out new service and pricing incentives to lure riders back to the transit system after months of low ridership. Plus, if you go digital for your SmartTrip (trust us, it's incredible), you get 10 free capital bikeshare rides! We look forward to continued conversations around late night bus service improvements, bus transformation improvements, and the many ideas for making transit better serve all trips.
*Transit PSA: Remember this cool graphic from WMATA on air circulation and details on air filtration on Metro facilities? What this tells us is that a Metrorail car may have fresher air than our favorite bar, cubicle, or even our homes. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, and take transit (thank you NYC for this)!
5. Virginia Tech shares more details of its $1B innovation campus ahead of fall groundbreaking
Despite the pandemic, construction plans for Virginia Tech’s graduate innovation campus are full speed ahead, according to the university's team, which has set a mid-September date for the project's groundbreaking. The news comes as the university welcomes roughly 100 students for the graduate program's third semester of instruction in a temporary Falls Church outpost — some of them learning in person for the first time.