Late Monday night (12/21), both chambers of Congress passed the omnibus package containing appropriations, COVID-19 relief resources, and tax extender provisions. The bill is now before President Trump for his signature, finalizing enactment of the bill. The package contains $900 billion in COVID-19 relief, including $25 billion for emergency rental assistance, an extension of the CDC Eviction Order, an extension of the CARES Act spending deadline, and a permanent 4% floor for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit developments. See below for more background. Go here for more detailed information on the Housing Relief Measures.
With large portions of funding coming through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the General Assembly may need to convene a Special Session in order for relief funds to be implemented in the state. The Coalition is monitoring the situation and will alert members on the movement of housing resources within the state.
The relief measures provide a welcome reprieve for tens of thousands of people across the state, and millions across the country, however, we know that these resources are insufficient in ensuring long-term survival, let alone recovery from the effects of the pandemic. Based on the inconsistent manner that eviction moratia and related orders have been applied across the state, we also know that we will need leadership from Governor Cooper and other elected officials to ensure that individuals do not fall through the cracks and are actually able to be helped as intended by such policies. Lastly, we must continue advocating for program administration that ensures that relief resources are deployed quickly, effectively, and in a manner that targets those most in need of assistance. The Coalition will be in touch with more details on what advocates can do as we learn more details.
Late Sunday (12/20), Congressional leaders announced that they had finally, after months of discussions, come to agreement on an additional round of COVID-19 relief measures, appropriations, and tax extenders. As of this writing the legislative text containing the agreed upon provisions is being drafted. The current plan is to attach the relief package and tax extenders provisions to the omnibus appropriations bill that will fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2021.
The need for additional government assistance is well-documented. Statistics continue to show us that people across the country are being deeply harmed by the economic fallout resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Here in North Carolina:
- An estimated 316,000 people are behind on rent (between October 14 to November 11)
- More than 30% of North Carolinians are at-risk for eviction (U.S. Census Bureau, Household Pulse Survey)
- In November, Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas disconnected electricity services to 16,961 households.
The omnibus bill includes the following provisions:
- $25 billion in emergency rental assistance
- Extension of the deadline to spend CARES Act monies to December 31, 2021,
- One month extension of the CDC Eviction Order to January 31, 2021,
- Establishes permanent minimum 4% rate for LIHTC projects.
North Carolina would receive an estimated $701 million to be administered by the state and large localities. Rental assistance would be distributed to states and cities with populations greater than 200,000 via the Coronavirus Relief Fund, rather than through HUD supplemental allocations as was the case with the CARES Act. Presumably the state’s portion of rental assistance would be funneled into the HOPE Program to continue to provide rental and utility assistance.
The relief package also includes an extension of unemployment insurance benefits and direct stimulus checks of $600 per person.
The extension of the CDC eviction moratorium is considered a major “win” for housing and tenant advocates. Senate Republicans had pushed back on the provision questioning the necessity of extending the moratorium when rental assistance is being provided. The extension of the moratorium and extension of the CARES Act spending deadline ensures that state and local governments administering rental assistance are able to get assistance payments processed and households can avoid being evicted as they await that assistance.
Along with COVID-19 relief measures, the omnibus bill includes the extension of numerous tax code provisions. Most notable for Low-Income Housing Tax Credit developers is the establishment of a minimum 4% housing credit rate which will provide enhanced stability in using 4% credits and increase the amount of equity that can be generated, thereby ensuring more units of affordable housing are able to be developed.
As of this writing, the omnibus bill language is being finalized and then will be formally filed for introduction into the House. The bill will then need to pass the House and then move into the Senate. Once passed by both chambers of Congress, the bill will need to be signed by the President in order to be enacted. Right now the earliest that the House may be voting on the bill would be sometime late Monday (12/20).
The Coalition will continue to monitor the progress of the omnibus bill and COVID-19 relief.
What You Can Do Now:
Support for the COVID-19 relief package remains the most tenuous among members of the Senate. Please Call Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis to urge them to extend the CDC eviction order and provide at least $25 billion in rental assistance.
Sen. Burr – D.C. office: 202-224-3154
Sen. Tillis – D.C. office: 202-224-6342