House Bill 1200 (Foreclosure Prevention Grants/Rental & Utility Assistance) will likely begin its movement through the General Assembly with its first hearing as early as this week. Rep. John Szoka, the bill’s primary sponsor, and his staff are working on revisions and will be submitting the new version as a Proposed Committee Substitution (PCS) during the bill’s first hearing in the Appropriations Committee. As of this writing, the Appropriations Committee, which meets on Wednesday (6/10) morning, does not include HB 1200 in its calendar for this week. As soon as the bill is included on the committee’s calendar, possibly next week, the Coalition will alert members.
HB 1200 would provide some housing stability for thousands of households across the state that have lost employment or wages as a result of the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. The bill proposes to direct $200 million in federal coronavirus relief funds towards assistance for both homeowners and renters. Funds would be allocated to the NC Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) to distribute grants to individuals needing emergency funds to make mortgage, rent, and/or utility payments. NCHFA would work with HUD-certified housing counseling agencies and “approved rehousing” agencies to conduct intake, determine eligibility, and coordinate payments on behalf of individuals.
The Coalition along with other housing industry stakeholders, such as apartment owners, lenders, and Realtors, have submitted feedback to legislative staff in an effort to improve the bill’s ability to be implemented and assist people needing help.
“A direct line connects America’s history of racist housing policies to today’s over-policing of Black and Brown communities. The same line connects to racial inequities in housing and homelessness…” The payment assistance that HB 1200 would provide is one step towards balancing the scales by, at the very least, lessening the harm caused by housing instability. Data shows that low-income people are more likely to be experiencing job or wage losses due to the pandemic and that black and brown people are experiencing these impacts at higher rates than white households. North Carolina is experiencing record unemployment rates and well-documented delays in getting payments to individuals.
At the time of this writing, a statewide effort to help keep people housed during the pandemic, does not exist. While there is work happening behind the scenes to deploy federal CARES Act funds, such as Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-CV) and Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG-CV) funds, there still remains no public plan to deploy CDBG and ESG funds. Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order # 142, which extends a moratorium on evictions to June 21st. This date is fast approaching and there is a need for urgency.
Another bill that the Coalition is monitoring is House Bill 1208 which would provide $20 million to the Workforce Housing Loan Program (WHLP). Since WHLP is a non-recurring item in the state budget and because North Carolina does not have an enacted budget at this time, HB 1208 would provide funding that WHLP has typically received in the budget. The bill has passed through the House and currently is making its way through the Senate. As of this writing, the bill was scheduled to appear in the Senate calendars although that may change.
Now is the time to act. Reach out to your State House and Senators TODAY.
Tell your Senators:
- Vote YES on HB1208; and
- Commit to supporting HB 1200 once it reaches the Senate.
Tell your House members:
- Vote YES on HB1200