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Housing Matters: The Impact of the Shutdown on Affordable Housing

Samuel Gunter, Executive Director

We’re going on four weeks. The federal government has been partially shut down for four weeks, the longest in our country’s history. The costs to families, communities, and our economy are growing the longer it lasts.

There has been a lot of press about the 800,000 furloughed federal workers. News outlets across the country have been highlighting stories of how folks are making ends meet with no paycheck in sight. Back in 2017, a CareerBuilder study claimed that 78% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck.It’s a reminder for those of us that talk about the affordability of housing that most of us are only a paycheck or two away from crisis.

For example, 118 project-based Section 8 contracts in North Carolina have expired leaving nearly 2,000 residents unsure of their living situation.

It’s not just federal employees. The Campaign for Housing and Community Development Funding put together a document that charts the impact of the shutdown on affordable housing and community development programs run through HUD and USDA. These are programs that maintain and develop housing for folks who most need it. For example, 118 project-based Section 8 contracts in North Carolina have expired leaving nearly 2,000 residents unsure of their living situation. That number will goes up the longer the shutdown lasts. If we go into March, we will start to see Housing Choice Vouchers run out of funds and loss of housing on a much greater scale.

It’s not just federal employees and low-income renters receiving a federal subsidy. Organizations and local jurisdictions who rely on housing and community development funds to do their work are seeing delays in the awarding of that funding. Last week, Governor Cooper penned a letter to the President calling on him to end the shutdown, as it is impacting North Carolina’s ability to draw down disaster recovery funds for housing and agriculture. The North Carolina Housing Coalition is also impacted, as we are a regional intermediary for Housing Counseling agencies. This organization along with our entire network of 19 housing counseling agencies are waiting on approved, but undisbursed funds for 9 months worth of work already completed. If your organization is impacted, please let us know. You can email me at sgunter@nchousing.org.

It’s not just federal employees, and low-income renters receiving a federal subsidy, and organizations and local jurisdictions relying on housing and community development funds. Organizations like the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Home Builders are starting to see the impacts on the broader housing market, which will only increase as the shutdown drags on.

The shutdown needs to end. Now.

If your organization or community is impacted by the shutdown, the most impactful thing you can do at this moment is to call Sen. Richard Burr’s and Sen. Thom Tillis’ offices.  Call on them to protect North Carolina’s most vulnerable communities by ending the government shutdown and passing full year spending bills that provide strong funding for affordable housing and community development programs.

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