Continuing to advocate for housing affordability and supply will be a priority for the National Multifamily Housing Council (NMHC) in the coming year.

“Increasingly, we have built the case with data and other voices that we have a housing supply problem,” says NMHC president Sharon Wilson Géno. “Now the question is what do we do about it.”

Yossi May

Wilson Géno has been at the helm of the NMHC since early February. In her first year, she has been meeting with members across the country, touring properties, and learning about their work. A highlight for her was testifying before the Senate Finance Committee in March on behalf of NMHC and the National Apartment Association (NAA) on increasing affordable housing supply.

She says that the moment has come where policymakers are paying attention to and understanding that housing is important; however, more work needs to be done, such as getting the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act, which would strengthen the low-income housing tax credit program, to the finish line. However, she says she is concerned about rent control proposals and other regulations popping up in communities that may seem expedient to politicians but could ultimately hurt renters.

“How do we get policies in place where the government needs to make investments—direct investments, tax abatements, tax credits, other kinds of incentives to build the housing supply for today and to serve our growing population in the future,” she says. “And we don’t talk nearly enough about those not served.”

Wilson Géno says she has learned a lot of lessons during her first year at the NMHC. But one of the biggest has been around framing the industry’s benefits.

“In order to get our message across, we need to turn the conversation to the outcome we’re trying to achieve—providing a place where renters can build their lives and having a healthy rental community in every state,” she explains. “The economics of the family and the community, the benefits to schools, the tax revenue—there are so many benefits—talking about those first have been most effective. When we just talk about some of these policies [like rental control] being problematic for housing providers, I don’t think people hear us.”

Collaboration has been another big focus for the organization in 2023 and the year ahead. The NMHC worked with the White House on the Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights and the Resident-Centered Housing Challenge, educating leaders on the current issues being faced. One of the things that came out of this was the Foundations for Rental Housing, a set of six principles that all professionally managed apartments should use as a baseline for supporting their residents. So far, 4.2 million apartments in all 50 states and more than 115 rental providers are under the Foundations for Rental Housing principles.

It also has launched another coalition around housing solutions with industry organizations that include the NAA, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Home Builders. The coalition will launch an effort in the near future to educate and advocate for housing solutions at work in state and local communities as well as how rent regulation and other regulatory policies can be counterproductive and hurt residents.

The NMHC also will be tackling some hot topics, such as fraud in rental housing, in upcoming research projects as well as gearing up for its Annual Meeting, Jan. 30 to Feb. 1, in San Diego. Wilson Géno says some of the highlights of the event will include an array of speakers, featuring former attorney general Bill Barr and former national security advisor Susan Rice; an outline of the NMHC’s new strategic plan; an additional focus on technology in the multifamily space; and more ways for organizations and individuals to engage and get connected with the NMHC.