The current and most pressing federal policy issues impacting community associations include legislative proposals related to the Champlain Tower South condominium collapse, COVID-19 housing assistance fund, Disaster Assistance Equity Act, and ham radios.
Champlain Tower South Condominium
Since the tragic collapse of the Champlain Tower South condominium building in Surfside, Fla., in June, the CAI team has engaged in a series of meetings with senior staff at the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. As one would imagine, federal housing agencies are concerned about reserve funding and deferred maintenance for condominiums. Federal agency staff indicated a policy response is likely and urged CAI to stay engaged and provide information from the CAI working group and policy recommendations.
Members of Congress, especially the Florida delegation, and CAI are discussing a potential legislative response. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat serving the Surfside district, secured $22 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to lead an investigation into the collapse.
CAI is reviewing numerous avenues for funding to support disaster mitigation efforts, assistance for low- to moderate-income and senior citizen condominium owners for critical unexpected maintenance repairs, and other federal programs to help support building safety and integrity.
We continue to work closely with federal agencies, members of Congress, and state legislators as appropriate on a legislative response to the collapse.
For detail about CAI’s full response, including public policy recommendations and state legislative initiatives, visit www.caionline.org/condosafety.
Homeowner Assistance Fund Plans by States
Congress passed the America Rescue Plan in December 2020 to help people who were financially impacted by COVID-19. The Homeowner Assistance Fund is part of the recovery act, and it allows individual homeowners impacted by COVID-19 to apply for grants through their state housing finance agency to fund their housing expenses.
States are submitting draft implementation plans to the U.S. Treasury Department for review. CAI has reviewed the proposed state plans to determine whether community association assessments are explicitly included. New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont explicitly allow the state housing assistance funds to be used for community association assessments, and the Massachusetts plan is uncertain. For specific information, visit www.caionline.org/haf.
Disaster Assistance Equity Act
CAI applauds Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.) for co-sponsoring the Disaster Assistance Equity Act (H.R. 5298) with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.)—a show of bipartisanship that is rarely seen in today’s politics. Reps. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Paul Ruiz (D-Calif.), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), and Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) are additional co-sponsors on the bill.
Currently, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) inconsistently interprets regulations in a way that prohibits community associations from qualifying for federal disaster response and recovery programs. The Disaster Assistance Equity Act will allow FEMA’s Public Assistance Program to reimburse costs related to disaster debris removal from nonpublic roads and waterways in community associations and allow FEMA’s Individuals and Households Assistance Program to aid condominium unit homeowners for critical common element repairs after a natural disaster.
For more information and to contact your legislator to support the Disaster Assistance Equity Act, visit www.caionline.org/disasterassistance.
Amateur Radio Parity Act
CAI was contacted by staff for Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) concerning legislation to preempt association covenants on behalf of ham radio operators. Sen. Wicker’s counsel were conducting background research and stakeholder outreach on a legislative proposal submitted by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL).
The ARRL is seeking to amend Federal Communications Commission statutes to restrict community associations from adopting new rules concerning installation of ham radio antennas and to permit only those associations with a specific rule governing ham radio antenna installation to retain limited control over installation.
This legislation was introduced previously but didn’t pass. CAI is working to keep the bill from being introduced again this year to protect the local choices of the community association housing model.
To stay in touch with CAI advocacy efforts, visit our blog at advocacy.caionline.org.