Rhino releases policy framework to promote accessible, multifamily housing ecosystem

Plan Developed in Conjunction with Prominent Academic, Industry, and Policymaking Thought Leaders

Announcement Comes as Rhino Saved Renters Over $205 Million Nationwide in 2020 and is Trusted in Over One Million Homes

Rhino released Common Ground, a paper identifying policy solutions that city and state governments can rapidly implement to create a more accessible, affordable, and pro-growth housing ecosystem in light of the historic economic challenge brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of federal government response to meet the needs of renters and property owners.  During 2020 and prior, a number of city and state policymakers have demonstrated an openness to innovative solutions to complex housing issues, particularly in an environment characterized by limited budgets and inadequate federal support.  Common Ground seeks to highlight these creative, proven approaches and explain why they deliver value for both renters and property owners.  

While the federal stimulus package passed in April provided short-lived assistance for families, these funds have been long depleted for households in need.  With the federal government failing to put partisan differences aside and mobilize to deliver additional support, Rhino joins academic, industry, and policymaking leaders in calling on city and state leaders to consider the actions outlined in Common Ground.

Among the policy actions called for in Common Ground is broad adoption of “Renter’s Choice” legislation giving all renters the choice to use low-cost alternatives to burdensome cash security deposits such as Rhino’s security deposit insurance.  Both Cincinnati, Ohio and Atlanta, Georgia City governments have already passed legislation of this nature.  If cities and states across America followed suit, the potential exists for a $45 billion “renter stimulus.”  Other policies outlined in Common Ground include:

  • Zero-interest loans for developers who rehabilitate uninhabitable properties if they agree to a cap on rent once completed; 
  • Consistent and straightforward zoning standards based on population density;
  • Damage mitigation funds that would cover damages beyond a security deposit for lower-income renters, allowing property owners to take on “high-risk” renters with increased peace of mind;
  • Tax credits that cover housing costs in excess of 30% of household income;
  • Local and state incentives for property owners to keep their renters in stable housing, rather than going through eviction proceedings;
  • Pragmatic eviction diversion strategies, mitigating the negative economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and allowing more renters to access housing now and moving forward.

“Improved housing accessibility is an aligned interest for every stakeholder in a community, including multifamily owners and residents, but employers, environmental advocates, and even local governments benefit too. Increased access means increased demand for property owners and broader options for residents that better reflect their unique needs and preferences, but employers benefit from shorter commute times for workers, which cuts down on auto emissions and other environmental impacts, and even improved fiscal performance for local governments as properties thrive and generate tax revenue,” said Kimble Ratliff, Vice President, Government Affairs at the National Multifamily Housing Council.

“High barriers to entry not only affect renters, who must save up for a security deposit and clear background checks, but also impact property owners and operators. Higher barriers means that owners have more screening costs, fewer eligible potential renters to choose from, and are potentially less able to adjust quickly to changes in market conditions by filling vacant units. With lower barriers to entry, property owners would see more applications to their units and ultimately more efficiently-run properties,” said Benjamin Keys, Associate Professor of Real Estate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. 

“At Rhino we believe that cross-sector collaboration can unlock solutions to large-scale problems,” said Jordan Stein, Director of Public Policy at Rhino. “We occupy a unique position in the multifamily housing ecosystem, and an important part of our mission is using that position to bring the right leaders to the table to collaborate towards solutions. This policy paper is a key part of that effort, highlighting proven solutions that we gathered by connecting with leaders all across this industry.”