ACTION: Reach out NOW to your state elected officials and tell them to remove Sections 5. (e), 5 (f), 5.(g), and 5.(h) from House Bill 196 that would slow down and jeopardize long overdue rental assistance.
CONTEXT: The General Assembly is moving quickly today to pass the 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief Bill (HB 196/SB 172), which includes provisions that would delay and potentially jeopardize federal rental assistance. Passed out of the House Rules Committee last night, the bill is expected to pass the House, be voted out of Senate Appropriations, and pass the Senate this evening. While the bill includes several provisions, the Housing Coalition is focused on a series of proposals that add layers of complexity to the state’s rental assistance program (HOPE Program) that will cause confusion and additional delay. With hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians already many months behind in rent and at-risk of eviction, speed in the delivery of rental assistance is the most important factor.
The previous tranche of funding for the HOPE Program came with requirements that contributed to slowing down the disbursement of assistance payments. The problems were experienced across the country and the Congress responded by removing those barriers in the latest round of assistance enacted in December 2020. The Treasury Department concurred with those measures in their most recent FAQ document. Now the General Assembly is proposing changes that similar barriers be put back into the process, repeating the same mistakes. The General Assembly gave NCORR the authority to disperse the rental assistance funding two weeks ago. No further action from the General Assembly is necessary for this funding to move.