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Housing Call: April 23, 2024

NCHC Updates

  • May 3, 2024 – 10:00 am – Learning Collaborative Session #5 – To register: Click Here.

Session five of our Learning Collaborative Series on Housing Barriers for Justice Involved populations and individuals at risk of overdose will feature colleagues working within Managed Care who are working to support some of the most vulnerable citizens of our state.

Topics covered will include the Transitions to Community Living Initiative, Reentry supports and services for those exiting institutions, and other issues related to those seeking housing and behavioral health supports.

  • May 17 – Learning Collaborative Session #6 – Registration will open soon.
  • June 4-5, Bringing it Home Conference; The Bringing It Home 2024 agenda is now available! Highlights include Insights from the NC Balance of State CoC Lived Expertise Advisory Council, lunch remarks from Dr. Lorenzo Claxton, North Carolina Field Office Director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and more than a dozen breakout sessions on a variety of homelessness services topics. Review the agenda on our website and register today! Registration closes May 17.
  • September 5-6 – North Carolina Affordable Housing Conference 

SPECIAL HOUSING CALL- Discussing the Grants Pass v. Johnson Supreme Court Case and the impact on Housing Justice with Dr. Latonya Agard from the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

I’m excited to have Dr. Latonya Agard back today on our housing call to talk about the Grants Pass v. Johnson case and the impact on our work.


Dr. Latonya Agard,  Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness

Latonya L. Agard, “Dr. A,” comes to NCCEH with a wealth of leadership experience within the faith community, higher education, nonprofits, and mental health. She holds several degrees, including a BS in Chemistry and an MA in English from the University of Alabama, an MDiv from Duke University Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry from Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Her work in higher education focused on mentoring first-generation African American students, helping to build their capacity for resilience, and teaching at the University of Alabama, Miles College, Barton College, and Duke Divinity School. As a local pastor and church planter, she has led communities of faith to consider the dynamic relationships between Christian praxis and professions of faith. This transformative work fuels her interest in connecting the tenets of her faith with the practical needs of marginalized communities, which is partly reflected in her work to help establish ONE Wake, an IAF affiliate in

Wake County, NC, her job as a case manager for the Support Circle Program for Homeless Families, and her service on nonprofit Boards of Directors.

Integrating her skills, knowledge, and experience, Dr. A broadened her justice work by opening her business, BeSpeak Solutions, Inc. As a North Carolina Fee-Based Practicing Pastoral Counselor Associate and Transformational DEI Specialist, she provides narrative and trauma-informed mental healthcare, workshops, presentations, and consultant services. In 2021, she joined NCCEH as a DEI Consultant to begin guiding the agency through the difficult process of identifying and dismantling racism and racist practices. This collaborative relationship challenged the staff and Board of Directors to redefine its values, reframe its Mission and Vision, and craft an explicit DEI Statement. Now, as our Executive Director, Dr. A continues to lead NCCEH as we transform our workplace culture and serve homeless families in North Carolina.

  • Describe your thoughts and observations so far on the Grants Pass v. Johnson Case that is being considered by the Supreme Court.

I listened, off and on, to oral arguments yesterday and found myself dismayed most of the time. Here’s why. The attorney for the prosecution continually evaded key questions about the core issue of the case: (1) whether the Grants Pass ordinance targets individuals based on their status, (2) whether homelessness IS a status, and (3) whether the case under question is civil or criminal in nature. The prosecution’s attempt to evade these questions by Judges Sotomayor and Kagan indicates, to me, their desire to muddy the waters (HUD has clearly defined homelessness) and ignore the reality of how the ordinance would affect someone experiencing homelessness in their municipality. Although the ordinance does not mention homelessness explicitly, law enforcement officials in Grants Pass have admitted that only homeless people would be cited for sleeping outside with anything that could be used for bedding, e.g., a blanket, pillow, or jacket folded under their heads. However, anyone else who falls asleep outside on public property would be left alone and treated with dignity and respect. This admission tells us a few things. First, law enforcement officials in places like Grants Pass must be surveilling and profiling people to determine who “looks” or “appears” to be homeless. Otherwise, how do they know whom to cite for infractions? Second, there is a cultural disdain for people who are vulnerable and lack resources. In this case, we are witnessing a city that would rather pass legislation to maintain homelessness instead of fund evidence-based interventions that are proven to transform the lives of people and communities by providing safe, clean, affordable housing to people and then connecting them to other resources designed to stabilize and improve their total wellbeing. Finally, this case shows us how dangerous it is when communities promote the idea that homelessness happens solely because of personal failings and dysfunction. Doing so absolves the rest of us from any responsibility for their wellbeing. 

  • What does this case mean for your work? What stands out the most? Concerns you the most?

This case is very important for NCCEH and any other agency working for housing justice in our country. Less severe ordinances have passed right here in NC. Every town wanting to revitalize its downtown district is watching this case. The question is how far can a municipality go to penalize, hide, or remove someone whose personhood is considered a nuisance and “bad for business”? People who are homeless are being targeted; their encampments–which are their communities and places of safety–are destroyed; their belongings are burned or thrown away; they are forced to move again and again with fewer resources as a community marked for death. I say that research studies reveal the detrimental and traumatic effects of homelessness. It places tremendous pressure upon the physical, psychological, emotional, and communal resources of a person or family, which is why there is a higher likelihood of early death and/or incarceration for these citizens.    

  • And more broadly, for our communities?

Unfortunately, Stephanie, the presence of homeless people sleeping (or eating, or breathing, or simply being) in public places reveals our culture’s unwillingness to care for our most vulnerable citizens. If the Supreme Court upholds the Grants Pass ordinance, I believe more municipalities will pass similar laws to remove people who experience homelessness from public sight. I shudder to consider what that could mean for the future of our communities and the lives of people who would be affected. People experiencing homelessness will either have to leave town or face criminal charges, which could inhibit them from securing housing in the future and make it easier to become caught in the net of our nation’s industrial prison industry. 

  • What are alternatives that local communities should consider?

Communities could consider listening. I know that’s radical. Listen to everyone, not just the developers, business owners, and law enforcement. What might happen if we actually listened to people experiencing homelessness and thought creatively about how to use the wealth of our communities to create a more just community where every person is equally valued and respected? We know that housing-first initiatives work. At NCCEH we will continue to advocate for such initiatives and support the work of partners doing the same thing across the US

Thank you for joining us Dr. A!

Here is a link  that includes several great resources from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) about this week’s national week of action – opposing the criminalization of homelessness in the U.S .


State Updates

  • Governor Cooper Announces 31 Grants to Rural Communities to Attract 430 New Jobs and over $211 Million of Investment | The NC Rural Infrastructure Authority recently approved 18 grant requests for the new Rural Downtown Economic Development Program, including 2 grants that will leverage additional funding for proposed workforce housing:
    • A $412,500 grant will assist Alexander County in supporting the Housing Our Teachers Project, which plans to renovate a two-story, 4,561-square-foot building in Taylorsville. The first floor will be renovated as a commercial space, and the second floor will be renovated to create two, one-bedroom apartments that will be leased to new Alexander school teachers at an affordable rate. The project is expected to leverage $871,175 in investments.
    • A $212,500 grant will support the Growing Downtown Roseboro Roots Building Rehabilitation Project. The project will rehabilitate a building, providing a new commercial space for a small business on the first floor and two, one-bedroom residential units for workforce housing on the second floor. This project is expected to leverage $940,446 in investments.

Low-income households in need of rehabilitation and accessibility modifications in 31 North Carolina counties will receive help thanks to $11 million from the NC Housing Finance Agency’s Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool (ESFRLP). The ESFRLP finances major home rehabilitation and modifications for households with incomes below 80% of their area’s median income. This investment will help veterans, seniors and people with disabilities stay in their homes and out of costly institutions, saving on health care and long-term care costs. Homes with lead hazards occupied by a child six years of age or younger may also qualify. The NC Housing Finance Agency provides this assistance through local governments, regional organizations, community action agencies and other nonprofit agencies. Thirty-eight organizations and local governments will receive funding in the amount of $162,000 set-asides per county served and will manage the rehabilitation process. Learn more and search for a partner offering assistance in your area at

State Legislative Updates

Short Session begins this week! Tomorrow April 24, 2024

Here are a few helpful links to prepare you for this short session.

  • Here is a link to bills formally eligible to be considered during the remainder of the 2024 session.
  • Of the bills formally eligible to be considered on this list – here are the bills we are watching.
  • Here is our bill tracker – stay tuned for updates to this version.

Local Community Updates

  • C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency partners with Haywood County to assist storm-displaced homeowners and first-time homebuyers | Yesterday, the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency and Haywood County launched a countywide Housing Assistance Program. The program is for homebuyers who were displaced by Tropical Storm Fred in 2021 and income-qualified first-time homebuyers. More than $1 million is available to offset homeownership costs, including up to 30% in down payment assistance and up to 5% in closing cost assistance. The program will serve low- to medium-income households purchasing a home in Haywood County. Details about program eligibility and awards can be found on the Haywood County HAP webpage.
  • Buncombe County Planning Board postpones vote on short-term rental restrictions for 100 days | Last night, the Buncombe County Planning Board decided to defer a vote for 100 days on proposed short term rental text amendments, citing the need for new board members to learn more about the issue. The proposed changes would grandfather in existing short-term rentals, but place limits on the location and size of future short term rentals.
  • Chapel Hill approves plan to help meet ‘tremendous need’ for affordable senior housing | Chapel Hill Town Council voted unanimously to approve Longleaf Trace, a development of 48 affordable apartments for seniors. Nonprofit housing developer Taft Mills Group was able to get the project approved quickly thanks to the Community Priority housing process, which accelerates projects that include at least 25% affordable units. Instead of the usual 12-18 months, projects that are fast-tracked through the Community Priority process are typically approved in about 6 months.
  • Wake Commissioners pave way for 450+ new affordable homes | Recently, the Wake County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved an $11.1M allocation to support six Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) applications and provide gap financing to one previously awarded LIHTC project. LIHTC applications are due May 10 and awards are expected to be announced in August.
  • City approvals push forward plans for former Wilmington fire stations | Wilmington City Council recently voted to award Good Shepherd Ministries $2.1M in HOME Investment Partnership – American Rescue Plan funds. The funds will provide the final gap financing needed to develop 32 units of supportive housing on land the City donated to Good Shepherd in 2022. Good Shepherd is the largest provider of homeless services in the Cape Fear Region.
  • The Outer Banks Voice – Dare Housing Task Force to convene special April 22 meeting with state senators | Days after Dare County Commissioners held a special meeting and voted to return $35 in state funding allocated by the General Assembly for affordable housing, the Dare County Housing Task Force met last week and decided to continue discussions with state officials before sending the appropriation back. Tomorrow, the Task Force will meet with state senators Bobby Hanig and Norman Sanderson, where they are expected to discuss repealing HB 259, the legislation that exempts affordable housing projects funded with state dollars from local zoning regulation. House Speaker Tim Moore confirmed last fall that the provision was added at the request of legislators from the area to overcome issues with municipalities using zoning to effectively block the creation of affordable housing.


Reports & Resources 

In the News 

Grants Pass v Johnson

Other National Housing News

North Carolina

Recommended read

Housing Call: April 16, 2024

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