small-unit count rentals – and we know now that they too are “vulnerable to the vicissitudes of the low-end rental market” as one HUD study phrased it. The system is frail, both parties are at risk and prefer no eviction. Perhaps now, people will look through a new lens: evic- tions may not actually be the housing provider’s fault un- der most circumstances, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. As post-pandemic programs are assembled to heal and shore up hard-hit markets, it is time to reimagine “Community Development” as an innovation opportunity that collaborates with a collective community of inde- pendent housing providers to safeguard renters against funding the same flawed programs that have not met the demand. It will require courage to do something new, and embrace independent housing providers as well-regarded Small Business operators who graciously serve a critical need for tens of millions of low-income families: the back- bone of humanity’s most essential need, housing. Next month, a bold new plan and vision for the Rental Housing Industry will be revealed. HOWAREYOUMANAGING DURING THESE CHALLENGING TIMES? Please complete our short survey. Let us know of any gen- erosity or acts of kindness you have extended to your renter as they too are experiencing struggle during this COVID-19 pandemic. Either scan the QR code, or navigate using the link: https://survey.fairh.org/pandemic. We need your good stories to counteract the predomi- nant negative stories - and we will get your story out in a big way - stay tuned for next month! •
ADDING ITALLUP Bottom Line: It is a compound problem with depth beyond the obvious. 1. Individual investors are the majority owners and operators of small unit-count properties. 2. That category is the largest unit count of all rentals and household population. 3. Those owners have limited funds and access to credit to cover missed rent payments. 4. Those small-unit count rentals also contain the highest proportion of low-cost rental units. 5. The renters of those very same low-cost units are vulnerable low-income households. 6. They have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 job or wage losses (half of all lower- income Americans). 7. 75 percent of them do not have three months’ worth of emergency funds, and 8. Surveys show that Class-C rental unit delinquency rate during the pandemic may be as high as quadruple the normal average. The cascade continues with potential foreclosures and bankruptcies that remove availability of low-cost rental housing from what is already in undersupply, which fur- ther reduces available low-cost rentals that are normally in high demand which, in turn, may be a cause for increas- ing market rent prices at a time during high unemploy- ment, etc. COMMUNITYDEVELOPMENT FUNDING IS NEEDED TO SHORE UP INSTABILITY The pandemic changes the context through which to see the broken system and the pandemic demonstrates that an eviction may be neither party’s fault. Unfortunately, the pandemic effect of sustained unpaid rent with increased delinquency for low-cost rentals may overstress the financial fragility in the system with poten - tial cascading effects that permeate the industry, begin- ning with low-cost rentals. The pandemic effect may cause this precarious system to tip out of balance with unknown and unpredictable outcomes. With no aid relief package passed (at the time of print) and in an election year, uncer- tainty lingers. The rental supply balance largely depends on independent investors to provide low-cost housing with
For Column Notes, Resources and Language Translation for this Column, go to: RealtyMatters.Online/Column/November-2020
BrianWojcik is a housing industry advocate who transitioned into real estate, both as an investor and property manager, after more than two decades of experience in engineering, sales, executive management, and operational/business process reengineering consulting. He resides in Howard County, MD, where he volunteers to teach a “Tenant Success” program he created for Bridges to Housing Stability, and where he created Landlord411 to assist rental housing providers. His expertise of the independently owned rental-housing market has been sought after for local and state level legislation/policy development. Mr. Wojcik has been published in national publications about legislative issues, affordable housing matters, and rental housing advocacy. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing Management from Clarkson University and a Master of Science degree in Real Estate from The Johns Hopkins University. He is founder of diyRealty.co.
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