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The White House and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) continue to take steps toward their commitments to protecting renters as well as lowering housing costs and boosting supply.

Focusing on ensuring fair tenant screening practices, HUD, the Department of Agriculture, and three independent agencies—the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency—will each release guidance or best practices to landlords, operators, and stakeholders who rely on tenant screening reports when evaluation rental applications.

As part of that, HUD is sharing with public housing agencies and property owners best practices for informing rejected applicants about why they were turned down. This will help make the rental screening process more transparent and give renters a better ability to correct errors.

The agency also is supporting renters by providing $10 million for tenant education and outreach in properties supported by the Section 8 project-based rental assistance program. In addition, it announced that it will soon issue a proposed rule addressing notification requirements for evictions due to nonpayment in certain subsidized housing properties. In public housing or properties with project-based rental assistance, providers would need to give written notification to tenants at least 30 days prior to lease termination in cases of nonpayment of rent.

“We must provide renters with the necessary resources to safeguard their interests and enhance their communication with landlords,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “HUD is dedicated to collaborating with renters and ensuring they are well informed about their rights.”

On increasing the housing supply and lowering costs, HUD has launched a first-of-its-kind federal program to address land use and zoning barriers. The $85 million Pathways to Removing Obstacles to Housing (PRO Housing) program will provide communities with competitive grants to further develop, evaluate, and implement housing policy plans; address restrictive zoning, land use, or regulatory policies; improve housing strategies; and facilitate the creation and preservation of affordable housing stock. Grants will range from $1 million to $10 million and will be awarded to local governments, states, metropolitan planning organizations, and multijurisdictional entities.

“HUD recognizes that communities have unique housing challenges, and that’s why the resources announced today are not one size fits all. HUD is proud to highlight the efforts of communities who are committed to housing-forward policies and practices, and through PRO Housing, we hope to support them with funding as well,” added Fudge. “Today, we are acting to increase the supply of affordable housing, which is crucial to lowering housing costs. We look forward to continuing this work in partnership with local communities.”

HUD also is providing public housing authorities and multifamily owners that are participating in the Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) program new tools to build and rehab affordable housing. The supplemental RAD notice provides additional flexibilities for housing providers that will enhance the program’s ability to support repairs to thousands of homes over the next three years. It also promotes water- and energy-efficiency investments. In addition, the notice provides $12 million in support of preservation transactions for eligible housing that serves the elderly.

In addition to the recent announcements, housing providers and other stakeholders joined a roundtable discussion hosted by Adrianne Todman, HUD deputy secretary, on growing the nation’s housing supply.

“Policies that actually move the needle and expand housing supply are the only real way we are going to lower the cost of housing and broaden housing availability,” said NMHC president Sharon Wilson Géno, who participated in the roundtable discussion. “I applaud HUD and the Biden administration for taking steps in the right direction. Moving forward, NMHC will continue to work proactively with lawmakers to further policies that cultivate the creation of more needed housing while educating them about the research that demonstrates that more regulatory focused policies, such as rent regulations, only make housing less available to renters who need it.”