Multifamily & the Future of the US Postal Service—a Tangled Web
The notion that reforming and restructuring the US Postal Service (USPS) could have a major impact on the multifamily industry may come as a surprise to some, but after a hearing on Capitol Hill last week that appears to increasingly be the case. Apartment companies and their residents rely on the USPS for mail and package delivery, but the services they receive are coming into question as Congress looks for ways to shore up the finances of the USPS in the wake of falling mail volume and accompanying revenue.
Recently introduced legislation to address the USPS funding shortfall includes cost-cutting measures to mail delivery policies that aim to eliminate door to door delivery and mandate centralized delivery locations for both new and existing addresses. This move would be in addition to current USPS regulations which maintain that the USPS is the only carrier that can access those centralized delivery mailboxes. Given the increasing volume of packages arriving at apartment communities across the country, the challenges and costs surrounding package delivery by other carriers such as UPS or FedEx would remain.
As the debate surrounding reshaping the USPS continues, NMHC/NAA is committed to ensuring that postal reform does not adversely affect mail delivery to apartment residents or impose costly requirements on apartment properties. NMHC/NAA will continue to highlight the practical implications of moving to centralized delivery, which include impacts on safety and security, construction and maintenance costs, available space and facility design, accessibility and convenience, historic designations and aesthetic style, and weather and geographical landscapes.
In last week’s hearing, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee discussed a postal reform bill that has earned remarkable support from legislators on both sides of the aisle and a variety of stakeholders including bulk mailers and postal employee unions. This momentum has been long sought and could lead to reform efforts moving forward. During the House hearing, the committee focused primarily on health and retirement benefits for postal employees and retirees, as well as upgrading the aging postal service infrastructure. Minimal time was spent exploring ways to address last-mile delivery, including the potential move to centralized delivery. The committee is expected to mark up the bill in the next month. If passed out of committee, the bill will be referred to the Ways and Means Committee before being sent to the full House for consideration.
NMHC/NAA will continue to work to ensure that apartment communities’ needs are front and center as Congress evaluates any changes to USPS mail delivery policy. Any reforms must not be overly burdensome to existing and future apartment communities who must account for a host of design, legal, and resident demands.
More information on postal service reform and package delivery can be found here.