On October 14th and 15th, the NC Housing Coalition hosted the first ever virtual Housing Works NC Affordable Housing Conference in partnership with the NC Housing Finance Agency and Centrant Community Capital. Housing Works 2021 brought industry leaders into a virtual platform to discuss the latest news and hot topics in affordable housing ranging from federal infrastructure legislation to racial equity in housing. More than 550 individuals registered to attend, representing a diverse cross-section of tax credit developers, lending institutions, housing counselors, local governments, Habitat affiliates, nonprofits, and more.
The conference began on the afternoon of the 14th by addressing the state of affordable housing at both the national and state levels. Michael L. Browder, Sr., Region IV Deputy Regional Administrator for the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, detailed the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to make affordable housing a federal priority, saying:
“This administration views housing as a fundamental platform to help address the most urgent challenges facing our nation, to provide security and stability for those who live on the outskirts of hope, to advance opportunity and equity on the behalf of marginalized communities, and to meet the existential threat posed by natural disasters and climate change.”
Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary for NC Department of Health and Human Services, discussed how lessons learned from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic can help improve housing and homelessness services. She said:
“I’m highly optimistic that by cementing the connections of health and housing to build strong partnerships, acknowledging disparities and implementing equity strategies across our system, and by continuing to work quickly, we will make great progress towards our ultimate goal, borrowing from the North Carolina Housing Coalition’s mission of ensuring all North Carolinians have a home in which to live their lives with dignity and opportunity.”
The conference continued into the afternoon with a series of live workshops on topics including a tax credit equity panel and an overview of the state’s housing infrastructure. Attendees also had several on-demand sessions available to view, including a special update for housing counselors and a Housing Credits 101 guide. Day 1 concluded with a Fair Housing Q&A session with Jack Holtzman, Co-director of the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, where attendees discussed topics such as LGBTQ housing protections, service animals, and updated guidance from the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule.
Day 2 of the conference began with a discussion of housing resources for both renters and homeowners impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, featuring the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency Director Laura Hogshead and NC Housing Finance Agency Manager of Compliance and Quality Assurance Claudia Young. Attendees then participated in several breakout sessions including the Annual Developers’ Workshop and a panel on diversity in the housing industry. The conference concluded with an Industry Update by David Gasson and Bob Moss, Partners at MG Housing Strategies, who discussed the LIHTC provisions in the Ways and Means Committee Mark and the future of the current federal infrastructure bills. David Gasson also thanked the NC Housing Coalition for its advocacy work and stressed the importance of continuing to advocate to NC’s federal delegation, saying:
“It really makes all the difference in the world…[T]hey need to know what’s going on at home and the significance of these programs. And so everything you guys do in the advocacy side is critical and is helpful, and it’s the reason why we feel like we have good standing in the legislation.”
Over the two days of broadcasting, more than 300 attendees participated in the conference live, and recordings of all conference sessions are available to registrants through November 14th. “We hope that you’re able to take from this time what you needed to be encouraged, more connected, and better equipped for the task at hand,” said NC Housing Coalition Executive Director Samuel Gunter in his concluding remarks. The next Housing Works conference will take place Fall 2022, and conference hosts will closely monitor health and safety guidelines in order to determine whether it will be in-person, virtual, or hybrid. To receive updates for the 2022 conference, visit nchousingconference.com.