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Policy Update 10-6-21

Federal Updates

Vote Delayed on Infrastructure and Recovery Package – “Build Back Better Act”
The U.S. House of Representatives was expected to vote last week on the $3.5 trillion comprehensive infrastructure and economic recovery package, including more than $300 billion in housing funding:

  • $90 billion for rental assistance, including $75 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers and $15 billion for Project-Based Rental Assistance. See the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ state-by-state breakdown of how many people would be assisted through this voucher expansion; 
  • $80 billion to preserve public housing; and
  • $37 billion for the national Housing Trust Fund (as a set-aside within the HOME Investment Partnership Program). See NLIHC’s state-by-state estimate of this investment.

However, agreement has not been reached on the topline number and the administration is currently negotiating with congressional leaders and moderate Democrats to drastically cut the package. 

The Washington Post reported Saturday that “the administration’s housing proposal, which called for more than $300 billion to build or retrofit over three million housing units, may prove among the first to hit the cutting room floor.” Housing organizations are urging members of Congress to leave housing funding at originally proposed levels. President Biden has proposed a compromise plan that would reduce the topline number to $2.3 trillion.

U.S. Treasury Releases New Guidance on Reallocation of Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Funds
The legislation that provided the first $25 billion in Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA1) required the Treasury to identify any funds that go unused and reallocate them. Under this new guidance, entities that have not obligated at least 65 percent of their ERA1 funding by September 30, 2021 will be required to submit program improvement plans and grantees must outline strategies to accelerate the distribution of funds. 

Grantees with expenditure ratios below 30 percent will be subject to recapture and reallocation. The guidance points to a process where recaptured funds will be reallocated based on performance and demonstrated need with the goal of preventing eviction. 

Deliberations on the Debt Ceiling Continue in Congress
The Senate reached an agreement on a stopgap measure last week to extend government funding through December 3, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown.

Senate Republicans blocked a previous proposal passed by the House to suspend the debt limit and avert a government shutdown because it included an extension of the debt ceiling, which they want Democrats to approve on their own.

The continuing resolution that was passed keeps the government open, but Congress still needs to address the debt ceiling. The U.S. is approaching it’s federal borrowing limit and the Treasury Department warned that Congress must act before Oct. 18 to avoid an unprecedented U.S. default.

Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA)
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021 that was re-introduced in the spring has not been taken up by Congress, but advocates are pushing for the primary provisions to be included in the infrastructure package or as part of budget reconciliation. The AHCIA would increase the amount of LIHTC allocation, decrease the 50% test for private activity bond-financed housing and make other changes to the LIHTC. It’s estimated that the provisions of this bill would finance as much as 2 million additional affordable rental homes over 10 years.

NCGA Updates

NC House and Senate Reach Agreement on State Budget
Both chambers of the NCGA came to an agreement on the state budget last week and sent it to the governor to begin negotiations. The draft budget has not been released publicly, but may include elimination of corporate income tax, personal income tax cuts, and medicaid expansion. A public version of the budget could be released as soon as next week.

As far as the Coalition is aware, all of the housing funding (LIHTC gap funding, NC Housing Trust Fund, Habitat for Humanity, and Rapid Rehousing) remains in the bill. Unfortunately all of the policy provisions remain in the bill as well. The Coalition is making a final attempt to have those provisions moved to a study bill.

House Bill 951 “Energy Solutions for NC” Advances in Committee
The latest version of HB 951 “Energy Solutions for NC” passed through multiple Senate committees on Tuesday. The energy bill is expected to move through the NCGA this week. While the bill does include an “on-tariff financing” program for energy efficiency upgrades, the consequence of the bill’s passage will significantly increase electricity bills and it does not offer any relief for low-income ratepayers. You can read more and take action here

Distribution of NC HOPE Program Assistance Leads Other States
North Carolina’s HOPE program provides rent and utility assistance to low-income renters that are experiencing hardship due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

The state’s program currently ranks 6th in the nation for speed in distributing assistance and 2nd for number of households served. Of North Carolina’s initial allotment of $396 million, the HOPE program has committed $328 million and has delivered $296 million in assistance to 108,353 eligible applicants. The program serves households in the 88 non-entitlement counties, which accounts for roughly half the population of North Carolina.

Comments on 2022 Qualified Allocation Plan Due October 15
The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) is accepting comments on the 2022 Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) draft,  which outlines how the state will allocate its share of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). Comments can be sent via email to by October 15. 

Local Updates

DHIC Celebrates Willard Street Apartments Opening in Downtown Durham
Durham celebrated the grand opening of 82 new affordable apartments in the heart of downtown Durham. The Willard Street Apartments will serve renters earning no more than 60% of the area’s median income, or about $41,500 for a family of two.

Wake County Launches Affordable Housing Preservation Fund
Wake County is partnering with Self-Help Ventures Fund to launch a new fund that will preserve affordable housing throughout the county. The county will provide an initial investment of $10.5 million for the fund with plans to grow it to $61.2 million with funding from municipalities, corporations, nonprofits and foundations.

Reports, Resources and Events

UNC School of Government — Free six-day course covering the Basics of the American Rescue Plan Act

NC Budget and Tax Center — What’s going on with the NC Budget? Three-minute explainer video

NCCARE360 — Fall 2021 Onboarding Sessions, including:

    • Onboarding to the Unite Us Platform
    • Onboarding Office Hours
    • New User Trainings

Bloomberg CityLab — What’s Driving the Huge U.S. Rent Spike?

Raleigh News & Observer — Teardown Street

Raleigh News & Observer — 160 tenants behind on rent applied for aid. Their landlord won’t accept the money.

WCNC Charlotte — Charlotte City Council unanimously approves $23M to build or keep 9 affordable housing complexes 

WCNC Charlotte — Airbnb, VRBO rentals overtaking luxury apartments

WSOC-TV — ‘We have no housing’: Hundreds of Afghan refugees coming to Charlotte need a place to live

National Low Income Housing Coalition — Overview and Analysis of Latest Emergency Rental Assistance Spending Data

Opportunity Starts and Home and Children’s Health Watch — The Housing Opportunity Gap 

Center for Community Progress — Tackling Vacancy and Abandonment: Strategies and Impacts after the Great Recession

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University — Single-Family Zoning: Can History Be Reversed?

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University — Webinar: Zoning and Equity Thursday, 10/21 @ 12:00 pm

Recommended read

Willard Street Apartments are a Model for Affordable Housing

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