Your Association Leading the Way

Posted By: Jim Wiard Articles , Industry Trends , WMFHA Updates ,

It has been an incredibly challenging last 18 months for all of us, both personally and professionally.

A global pandemic first hit the U.S. in Seattle. Non-stop political bickering. Social and racial reckoning. No masks, masks, no masks, masks again. Financial challenges, family challenges, employment challenges, health challenges.

Through it all, WMFHA has been leading the way, supporting our members and the housing industry, serving residents of our communities and the outstanding individuals who call residential property management their career.

Despite stay-at-home orders that sent everyone home with their Zoom cameras at the ready, WMFHA pivoted exceptionally well to continue to provide services and resources for our members to get through all these obstacles.  

A Need for Professional Development

We developed 6 Feet Apart, our free webinar series providing valuable real-time content to members yearning for information and some sense of connection. Educational offerings were forced to be held virtually, rather than the preferred in person, classroom environment.

Our goal has always been to find ways to provide meaningful, effective, and engaging learning experiences for our members, and that vision never wavered.

Networking events, crucial for professional development as well as for our supplier partner members to stay connected with their property management clients, had to evolve quickly.

Government affairs efforts were more important than ever as an onslaught of anti-landlord government actions threatened the industry and our businesses.

Despite the uncertainty and persistent headwinds, WMFHA took a strong leadership role in being the go-to resource for the housing industry in our state. Engagement with us has never been higher.

The industry also bucked up, did what we needed to do to protect our employees, residents, and investment assets, and took one on the chin in the most professional and dedicated manner possible.

Accomplishments, Dedication, Flexibility  

We learned that despite the obvious pitfalls with online, virtual, Zoom everything, we were able to bridge geographic divides and reach an audience far beyond our region and our state. Participants from across the country were able to join us in education and networking events. 

Classes that normally held 30 people in our training center now attracted 100-200 attendees. Events that traditionally sold out in person had unlimited potential for member involvement, attracting hundreds of participants. The devotion of our members and their desire to support their association was remarkable.

Our team members Sloane Cerbana, Tricia Johnson, Brett Waller, Katrina Bishop, and Kelly Wakefield stepped up with unwavering dedication to service, personal sacrifice, and passion, meeting the needs of an industry on edge.

Our Board of Directors and committee volunteers were crucial in our success during this exciting time. Our committee attendance had never been higher, thanks to the convenience of Zoom and sweatpants.

Mission of Community Service

WMFHA is deeply committed to using the strength and passion of our membership to make a positive impact in our communities. In 2020 our community service program, WMFHA Gives Back, faced a great challenge in the absence of in person opportunities. 

Initiating creative ways to accomplish our goals to support various community organizations, we not only met but surpassed expectations, setting records for fundraising for our community partners. 

We were privileged to earn national recognition by winning the prestigious National Apartment Association’s 2021 Excellence Award for Affiliate of the Year. We share this accomplishment with our members and supporters for exceptional innovation during a difficult time.

We have moved our offices to a much larger space, so that we can continue to provide first class services to our members and industry professionals as we begin to return to normalcy. We have begun meeting in person and being together once again, supporting and celebrating each other.   

 

WMFHA On the Front Lines

Legislatively, 2020 was a year of extremes. The WMFHA Advocacy Team and members used their voices loud and clear in a most challenging legal environment. 980 members sent 1,978 grassroots industry advocacy messages to lawmakers throughout the year.

We defeated statewide policies including rent control, capital gains taxes, individual utility metering, tenant screening limitations, and transfers of damages at tenant moveouts.

When COVID-19 hit, we advocated for rental assistance and helped secure $100 million for our state. We made changes to statewide eviction moratoria to permit termination for owner sale and occupancy. We worked on clarifying the role Sheriff offices play in a Writ of Restitution. We engaged at all levels of government, lending our voice and expertise.

The 2021 legislative session was even more challenging, but our industry continued to chalk up wins, even if those wins meant legislation that did pass was “less worse” than would have been without our strong advocacy efforts.

 

Focusing on Solutions, not Punishment 

The increased demand for housing means that prices continue to rise across single family homes, condos, and apartments. We must create thousands of new housing units at every price point to meet the needs of everyone – especially for those struggling to make ends meet. 

Tackling the affordable housing crisis requires cooperation and partnerships between multiple entities to help communities better address housing supply issues. We need to continue to grow these partnerships and platforms that have a proven success rate lowering barriers to housing and increasing Washington state’s affordable housing capacity.

Now that the 2021 legislative session is over, advocacy groups are targeting city councils across the region and urging them to pass even more tenant protections measures, which will only serve to negatively impact housing providers and renters. 

WMFHA will continue to educate elected officials on the harms and illegality of these local laws, and solutions that will work to bring us all together. We will continue to use our voice, our influence, and our Political Action Committee to support candidates less apt for retribution against landlords and more apt to care about solutions and working together. 

We need all the support we can get in our quest to lead the way through these choppy waters.