The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has fought to protect the interests of Realtors®, their families and the real estate industry throughout the pandemic. As our country continues to face this crisis, NAR continues to advocate on our behalf as negotiations continue on the next COVID-19 relief legislation.
This week, NAR sent letters to all members of Congress thanking them for their efforts and calling for additional measures to ensure Americans are safe, small businesses survive, and the economy recovers.
NAR is urging Congress to include the following provisions in the next COVID-19 relief package:
Funding for Housing Stability and Rental Assistance
The $25 billion provided under the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, for rental assistance, while extremely helpful, falls short of the support that is potentially needed. Additional funds are needed now to ensure that renters are able to satisfy their debt burdens and housing providers are able to fulfill their financial obligations. Additionally, a Housing Assistance Fund, modeled on the Hardest Hit Fund, would allow state housing finance agencies to help homeowners with COVID-19 hardships and bring their mortgage loans current through the targeted assistance.
Funding for State and Local Communities
Congress must ensure the needs of states and municipalities facing a budget shortfall this year due to COVID-19 are met with access to funding to empower targeted community responses. Such support will also offer relief to property owners who fear unanticipated additional hardships, such as increased local taxation, to make up for state and county budget deficits.
Language Expanding Access to Remote Online Notarizations
Remote online notarization remains a critical business tool for the real estate industry and NAR continues to advocate for the “Securing and Enabling Commerce Using Remote and Electronic Notarization Act of 2020” (S. 3533, H.R. 6364, the SECURE Act). This bill should be included in any COVID-19 response legislation.
Continued Support for Unemployment Assistance
More unemployment compensation and financial support will likely be needed as American families still face high infection rates and high unemployment rates. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, which for the first time provided benefits for the self-employed, gig workers, and workers not traditionally eligible for unemployment, is slated to end on March 14. Many workers and their families will need support beyond that date.
Extension and Enhancements of Funding for Small Businesses and Commercial Real Estate
Congress should continue to support the Small Business Administration’s delivery of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), administer increased funding for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) and grants, and prioritize emergency aid for particularly disadvantaged communities. Beyond small businesses, the difficulties posed by the pandemic remain troubling for the commercial real estate sector. NAR urges Congress to ensure additional support to the hardest hit sectors is provided through access to funds to keep workers on payroll and meet their business expenses. NAR also urges Congress to prioritize extending and enhancing loan programs to reinforce commercial business stability to blunt the aftermath of the ongoing pandemic.
Full text of the NAR letters may be found here: NAR Letter to the House; NAR Letter to the Senate