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Policy Update 1-22-20

Pamela Atwood, Director of Housing Policy

Around the State

Update on Budget & General Assembly
Last Tuesday (1/14) the General Assembly reconvened for their continued “Special Session” on unfinished matters. There was speculation about whether or not the Senate would vote to override Governor Cooper’s budget veto. In the end, the Senate majority announced that they did not have the necessary number of votes to complete an override. As such, the veto is sustained. The primary impact for housing concerns is that the Workforce Housing Loan Program (WHLP) remains unfunded for 2020. As a non-recurring budget item, WHLP does not receive funding unless it is included within an enacted budget or is a part of a specific spending bill. 

McDougald Terrace Update
The tragedy of McDougald Terrace continues and the extent of unsafe and unhealthy living conditions widens. Close to 270 residents of McDougald Terrace remain evacuated and temporarily housed in area hotels. Meanwhile, the Durham Housing Authority (DHA) has expanded site inspections to the rest of its housing portfolio. Thus far, 44 homes at DHA’s Hoover Road and Oxford Manor have been found to have carbon monoxide leaks. For now, it seems residents will continue to be displaced for at least another week or two.

DHA has yet to outline exactly what will be done – the specific repairs or renovations – to address the conditions within Durham’s public housing. At the state level, various state agencies are examining how and what they can do to assist in the crisis. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a clear path to declaring a “state emergency”, as defined by the federal government that would enable DHA or the city of Durham to access federal emergency assistance. The regional HUD office and Congressman David Price’s office are also exploring options for federal assistance.

The cost to relocate residents and conduct inspections is taking a large chunk out of DHAs budget and reserve funds. To date DHA has spent approximately $485,000 on lodging, transportation, and food as part of relocating residents, an expense of approximately $34,642 a day. DHA has begun accessing monies from their capital fund, which would otherwise be used for maintenance and other repairs.

The entire crisis at McDougald Terrace has brought new focus to the long-term effects of systemic underinvestment in public housing and housing in general. The Coalition will continue to keep members informed and is exploring ways to channel support of efforts to address the short-term and long-term needs. 

Details Emerge on Potential Raleigh Housing Bond
Yesterday Raleigh Housing Director Larry Jarvis presented some preliminary information on what a potential affordable housing bond in Raleigh would seek to do. The details presented Tuesday indicate that Raleigh is targeting a bond between $50 and $75 million which would translate into a $15-24 tax increase for property owners. The proposed bond package would allocate funds in the following breakdown:

  • 30% to LIHTC Gap Financing
  • 25% to Transit-Oriented Development Site Acquisitions
  • 25% to “Public-Private” Partnerships
  • 10% to Homeowner Rehab Assistance
  • 10% to Homeownership Down Payment Assistance

The City Council expects to have a bond package outlined in May. 

National

Fair Housing Changes
As discussed in this week’s Housing Minute video and accompanying blog, the proposed changes to the Fair Housing Act would weaken protections against housing discrimination and efforts to undo decades of housing segregation.

Some of the changes that would reverse progress towards more equitable housing include:

  • Redefining what is meant by “fair housing” choices
  • Reducing opportunities for public input & engagement
  • Reducing fair housing requirements for public housing authorities

To learn more about the changes and to submit comments, visit Fight for Housing Justice. The deadline to submit comments is March 16.

New Presidential Candidate Housing Policies
Last week, presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, released several housing and building related policy proposals. Sunday he released his ideas to invigorate homeownership among African Americans. His plans call for investing $70 million towards addressing “systemic discrimination” in “access to credit and wealth creation.” To address housing segregation and wealth inequality his administration would create a new “Neighborhood Equity and Opportunity Office” that would be charged with creating new programs targeted at the 100 poorest counties in the U.S. His plan would also include changes to the tax code that would spur investment. He did not outline how these programs would be funded.

Bloomberg also released his “Clean Building” plan to address climate change, specifically the environmental impact from the construction and operation of buildings. His policy plan focuses the effort on communities of low- and moderate-income people where the effects of climate change will be most harmful in the long-term and where the short-term benefits of reduced energy consumption and healthier indoor air quality would be most meaningful. For affordable housing, Bloomberg proposes to increase Low-Income Housing Tax Credit authority while providing matching financial systems for those housing developments that incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

Rep. Ted Budd Speaks on Importance of LIHTC
Last week, the House Financial Services Committee conducted a hearing focused on housing and homelessness issues. The committee listened to presentations and testimonials on affordable housing solutions. Among those, N.C. Congressman Ted Budd (R-13) spoke about the strength of the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program and the positive impact it has in creating affordable rental housing in North Carolina and beyond. 

Reports/Resources/Events

Center for Budget & Policy Priorities – “Medicaid Can Partner With Housing Providers & Others to Address Enrollees’ Social Needs

Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia & PolicyMap – The Cost to Repair America’s Housing Stock – and Which Homes Need it the Most

Habitat on the Hill – February 10-13, 2020 in Washington D.C.

Disaster Recovery Training – March 30-April 3, 2020 in New Bern, NC

Recommended read

Housing Discrimination Lives on in the Present

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