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Housing Call: September 27, 2022

Federal updates

  • Congress has until Friday, Sept 30 (the end of FY 22) to pass stopgap spending legislation to avoid a government shutdown. The Senate is expected to vote this evening on a “procedural shell” that could be filled with a spending bill that is expected to keep the government running through December 16 and push any difficult negotiations around spending levels until after the midterm election. Both sides seem motivated to get a spending bill passed, but Sen. Joe Manchin’s attached energy permitting reform proposal could slow things down in the Senate. In addition to aide for Ukraine, we are expecting to see funding for the water crisis in Jackson, Miss., resettling Afghan refugees and heating assistance for low-income families as we head into the winter.
  • Last Wednesday, HUD announced up to $175 million in grant funding available through the agency’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program. Grants will be awarded to nonprofits in the form of capital advances and project rental assistance contracts and will support the development of deeply affordable housing for very low-income seniors: HUD makes $174.6 million in grant funding available for construction and ongoing project-based rental assistance for low-income seniors | HUD
  • On Thursday, the White House hosted nearly 50 state and local elected officials, Tribal leaders, and community leaders from across NC for the second gathering in the “Communities in Action: Building a Better North Carolina” series. Officials discussed how the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Inflation Reduction Act, and CHIPS and Science Act will benefit North Carolinians. Readout from Communities in Action: Building a Better North Carolina | The White House.
  • Also on Friday, HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge announced more than 19,000 new Housing Choice Vouchers – the most expansive allocation of flexible rent assistance in 20 years. North Carolina will receive an additional 551 vouchers across the state. The top 5 largest allocations of new vouchers will go to Charlotte (49 vouchers), followed by Raleigh (26), Durham (22), Greensboro (21), and Winston-Salem (21). A press release from HUD notes that for some communities, this marks their first allocation of new HCVs in decades.

The FY23 FMRs, which were released September 1 and go into effect on October 1, increased this year by an average of 10% nationwide. HUD expects the new FMR levels will enable the voucher program to be more competitive with rent increases in the private market: Secretary Fudge Announces More Than 19,000 New Housing Choice Vouchers In Most Expansive Allocation Of Flexible Rental Assistance In 20 Years | HUD

State updates

  • Polling for the Besley-Budd Senate race shows that the gap between candidates continues to narrow. Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Senate Leadership PAC recently donated $3.4 million towards Ted Budd’s campaign and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s campaign account transferred $1 million to Cheri Beasley. The two candidates will participate in a debate on October 7. The debate will be aired on Spectrum News and moderated by Tim Boyum: With voting by mail already underway, Beasley-Budd Senate race remains neck and neck | NC Policy Watch
  • Last week, New Hanover County’s Board of Commissioners and Wilmington City Council both unanimously approved a street outreach pilot project partnership. Through the “Getting Home Street Outreach Program,” New Hanover County will create 5 new social work positions that will work with the Wilmington Police Department to connect people experiencing homelessness with services. The program is expected to begin October 1, with plans for social work staff to be hired by November 1. ,: What to know about Wilmington’s new plan to help homeless people downtown | Wilmington Star News.
  • August 2022 data from the NC Courts indicates that eviction filings in Durham have tripled since last year. DataWorks NC, a nonprofit based in Durham, reports that 75% of Durham County’s most recent evictions took place in neighborhoods where the majority of residents are people of color. The article reports that Cumberland and Wake Counties have experienced an increase in evictions as well, but at a lower rate. ‘It’s going to be worse.’ Evictions increasing across North Carolina | ABC 11
  • Ridgefield Place, a public-private partnership between the Town of Hickory and JRN Development, celebrated its ribbon cutting last week. HOME funding was leveraged to construct these affordable homes on vacant City-owned property. Houses are being sold to families earning up to 80% AMI for $155-168K:  Affordable housing initiative celebrates new homes in Hickory, NC | PR Newswire
  • Last week, Haywood County announced spending plans for a recent $1.1 M grant from Dogwood Health Trust, which was leveraged by $1M in ARPA funds from the County. The Town of Maggie Valley will also be contributing $112,000. Funds will be used for 3 projects: 1) Haywood Pathways will build 5 units of transitional housing 2) The roads at Bethel Village, a community owned by Mountain Projects, will be paved. Paving will open the community up to be eligible for USDA single family loans for workforce housing. 3) A revolving loan fund will be created to help nonprofit partners in the community expand their capacity to provide affordable housing.
  • An audit released earlier this month indicates that the HUD Inspector General found no “reasonable assurance” that ReBuildNC properly spent $2.5 million in Hurricane Matthew relief funds. The audit covers 2018, when the Department of Commerce and the Division of Emergency Management was responsible for the program, and 2019, when ReBuild NC was created and took over the program. Commerce/Emergency Management was responsible for two of the invoices in question and ReBuild NC was responsible for one. Further, the audit indicated that ReBuild NC’s contracting practices were flawed. NCORR director Laura Hogshead responded to the Inspector General, explaining that the agency has strengthened contracting practices and will work diligently to provide support for the payments in question.

The release of this audit comes on the heels of  the Joint Legislative Commission on Governmental Operations, Subcommittee on Hurricane Response and Recovery hearing to discuss why, despite ReBuild NC having received $780 million in funds to provide disaster relief, countless families from the communities hardest hit by both Hurricane Matthew (2016) and Florence (2018), are still waiting for relief. (If you missed last week’s piece, “Revisiting Recovery and the Pursuit of Disaster Relief” you can check it out here.)

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