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Building at the Ballot Box

Samuel Gunter, Executive Director

I spent much of election night staring at my phone and hitting the refresh button on the election results page of the NC Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. As many of you have seen, there will be significant changes at the federal and state levels come January 2019. Below is a quick look at some of the impact of the night’s results on affordable housing in North Carolina.

Federal Housing Updates

The Democratic Party won a majority of seats in the United States House of Representatives last night. One of the key consequences of this is a shake-up of committee chairmanships in the new Congress. Given the new majority, some of the key committees to affordable housing will be chaired by:

  • Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Chair House Financial Services Committee;
  • Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), Chair House Committee on Appropriations; and
  • Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) Chair of Housing Finance Committee (Rep. Neal is the Democratic co-author of the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act – HR1661).

Significant, particularly for North Carolina, is that Rep. David Price (D-NC) should become the new Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, which controls a significant portion of the nation’s housing investment.

Significant to the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the surprise retirement of Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH) earlier this year meant a shakeup in the Republican sponsorship of The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (HR1661). His spot as lead Republican sponsor was taken by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) who lost his election last night. It remains to be seen who will take his place as the lead Republican advocate for the LIHTC in the House.

For more updates on the federal impact, see the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Enterprise Community Partners.

State Housing Updates

The state’s Democratic Party picked up enough seats to break the Republican veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly. This should significantly shift the political landscape in 2019. Three of the incumbents who lost their elections last night played key roles in funding affordable housing investment:

  • Sen. Tamara Barringer, Co-Chair Senate Appropriations Committee on General Government;
  • Sen. Jeff Tarte, Co-Chair Senate Appropriations Committee on General Government; and
  • Rep. Nelson Dollar, Chair House Appropriations Committee.

We do not yet know who will take their places on the leadership of those committees, but we will need to spend significant time at the beginning of the year educating new members of the General Assembly on affordable housing issues.

Local Housing Updates

Election night brought significant wins for affordable housing at the local level. More than $70 million worth of affordable housing bonds passed:

  • Charlotte voters made an historic investment by approving $50 million in housing bonds;Image
  • Winston-Salem voters approved $11.7 million in housing bonds; andImage
  • Chapel Hill voters approved $10 million in housing bonds.Image

All of the bonds passed with more than 60% of the vote, showing that voters are very supportive of investing in the housing infrastructure of their communities. Thank you to the work of local advocates who did incredible work building support for these investments.