Around the State
NC HOPE Program Stops Accepting Applications
On Tuesday afternoon (11/10), the NC Office of Recovery & Resiliency (NCORR) announced that the state’s emergency rental and utility assistance program, Housing Opportunities & Preventing Evictions (HOPE), would stop taking applications at 6 PM on Wednesday 11/11. The program was unveiled in August, and opened for applications on October 15th. Reportedly over 37,000 households have applied for assistance. NCORR is closing the program as they near depletion of the $117 million in funds. Until the deadline low- and moderate-income households in need of assistance, should apply online at nc211.org/hope or by calling 2-1-1.
Statewide Election Results
Despite various projections & expectations, leadership in NC’s state government remained largely the same. Governor Roy Cooper (D) was re-elected and the General Assembly remains under Republican leadership. The pattern of divided government and its power dynamics appear unlikely to change.
This power relationship between the executive and legislative branches will likely result in issues such as housing, of being stuck in the middle of their opposing efforts, and possibly as collateral damage. Due to the on-going pandemic and economic crisis, state revenue is projected to be greatly diminished meaning that programs will be fighting each other for what funding is available. The General Assembly is due to return to Raleigh officially in January 2021. For more analysis of election results, please register for our Post-Election Panel Discussion on 11/18.
Housing Bonds Pass in Raleigh & Charlotte
On Election Day voters in Raleigh and Charlotte overwhelmingly voted in favor of affordable housing bond measures in their respective cities. In Raleigh, over 72% of voters supported that city’s $80 million affordable housing bond. Over in Charlotte, more than 77% of voters were in favor of a $50 million bond to support affordable housing in the city. For more details, please see today’s blog.
Governor Cooper Issues Executive Order To Prevent Evictions
Shortly before the end of October, Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order #171 (“Assisting North Carolinians At Risk of Eviction”) to clarify the application of the CDC eviction moratorium across the state in an effort to keep people stably housed during the coronavirus pandemic. The order makes clear residential renters are able to utilize the CDC Declaration form to prevent being evicted, and in fact, requires landlords to provide tenants with a blank copy of the form. The order does not prevent the landlord from beginning the eviction process. They will, however, be required to also submit a signed affidavit confirming that the form was provided to the tenant.
Tenants seeking protection from the CDC order must still meet the five eligibility criteria of the CDC order. In cases that have already begun, the tenant is still able to provide the signed declaration form to the landlord and the landlord has five days to submit it to the court.
The Governor’s order does not cancel the tenant’s obligation to pay and does not prevent a landlord from evicting for reasons other than nonpayment. The executive order allows landlords who have received a signed declaration form to still dispute the matter by submitting a written response to the court explaining why the eviction should proceed.
Since it was announced the CDC order has been unevenly applied from court to court, halting eviction for some and doing nothing for others. This move by Governor Cooper helps to ensure more consistent application of the CDC order across the state and provides a process framework for tenants, landlords, and court officials to work from. The CDC order remains vague on numerous points and the Department of Justice guidance only added to the confusion.
Despite the DOJ guidelines somewhat narrowing the scope of the CDC order, It is important to note that the CDC order was intended as a minimum floor for eviction protections and states and localities are permitted to implement more stringent requirements.
EO #171 went into effect on Friday, October 30th and will be in place until December 31st.
COVID-19 Relief Update
With the election now mostly behind us, the potential for a relief bill still remains unclear. Negotiations had fallen apart shortly before the election when it was clear there was not enough time to pass something prior to the November 3rd elections. However, now that results are known, it looks like negotiations on a bill will still be more difficult during the lame duck session.
The Trump administration has indicated that they will be reducing their role in negotiations on a relief bill. Before the election, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin served as the lead negotiator for Republicans, now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) will reportedly be leading any negotiations. For housing, and other safety net supports, this does not bode well, as Sen. McConnell has been unsupportive of the relief proposals greater than $500 billion. Sec. Mnuchin had last proposed $1.8 trillion in resources, including emergency rental and mortgage relief, while House Democrats had passed a $2.2 trillion relief package.
National advocates are asking people to remain vigilant in communicating to Congress about the need for housing resources. Here is North Carolina, with the HOPE program (see above) coming to a close, there remain thousands of households in need of assistance.
NLIHC Sends Biden Transition Team Memo Outlining Housing Needs
Tuesday afternoon, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) sent a memorandum to President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team, outlining ways the new administration and Congress can address critical housing issues facing extremely low-income families across the country.
In the memo to the transition team, NLIHC identifies key legislative and regulatory opportunities the Biden administration can pursue to ensure all people have the stability to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and thrive. The memo also urges the Biden administration to take immediate action to prevent an impending eviction crisis caused by the pandemic, and to make long-term investments to address the underlying, structural causes of the nation’s existing affordable housing crisis.
NLIHC President and CEO, Diane Yentel, will be one of our panelists for our Post-Election Webinar on 11/18. Please register here.
Reports, Resources & Events
University of Pennsylvania – Housing Initiative – COVID-19 AND RENT RELIEF: Understanding the Landlord Side
Center for Budget & Policy Priorities – 4 in 10 Children Live in a Household Struggling to Afford Basics
Urban Institute – State and Local Voucher Protection Laws