Except in election years, annually, CAI holds a federal advocacy summit which allows attendees to meet with their members of Congress to provide input regarding community association issues on the federal level. Prior to the summit, attendees watch webinars regarding the current issues and meet with CAI’s federal lobbyist and members of CAI staff to discuss the issues and how to conduct the meetings.
On Tuesday, May 8, 2018, I joined 105 other members of CAI for the 2018 Advocacy Summit – the largest fly-in event for CAI in its 45-year history. The 106 attendees attended a total of 104 meetings with members of Congress and/or their staff members. The attendees discussed several issues, including housing reform and disaster relief.
In 2016, Congress adopted the Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act (“HOTMA”) which requires greater access to FHA insured mortgages for purchasers of condominium units. In 2008, 33% of all condominium associations were approved for FHA insured mortgages, yet even after the adoption of HOTMA, only 6% of condominium associations are approved. Accordingly, we discussed easing the restrictions for eligibility and streamlining the process for FHA approval so that more condominium associations could obtain this approval.
In addition, we asked for support for House Bill 3238, the Disaster Assistance Equity Act of 2017. Currently, community associations are not eligible to request financial assistance from FEMA, despite the fact that community association residents pay the same federal taxes as individuals who do not reside in community associations. We provided photos of community associations damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the California wildfires that were ineligible to receive funds from FEMA. Overall, attendees reported that reception to this request was positive.
Personally, I found my meetings with staff for Senators Kaine and Warner and Representative Beyer were productive and positive. Being my third summit, I found it very rewarding to advocate on behalf of community associations directly with the lawmakers, and I hope that others take the time to do so. Additional information about the summit, the federal issues and what you can do to advocate on behalf of community associations can be found on www.caionline.org.
By Ursula K. Burgess, ESQ.
Ursula K. Burgess is a shareholder at Rees Broome, PC and her practice is devoted entirely to issues related to community associations in Virginia and Maryland. She is currently serving her second term on the CAI Board of Trustees and the Business Partners Council. She is an active member of the Chesapeake and Washington Metro Chapters of CAI and regularly teaches classes for CAI, locally and nationally. She lives in Alexandria, Virginia with her husband Joey and their dog.