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Policy Update 11-17-21

Federal Updates

Infrastructure Package Signed into Law, Still Waiting on Build Back Better
President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Monday and advocates are waiting to see if the House will hold a vote on the Build Back Better Act this week as planned. A vote was expected last Friday in conjunction with the infrastructure package, but moderate Democrats requested a Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill before moving forward. 

Prior to the infrastructure vote, the House Rules Committee released amended text for the Build Back Better Act which includes expanded LIHTC provisions that would represent the most significant expansion of the Housing Credit since its inception in 1986. The revised text also includes priorities from the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act (NHIA), which would create new tax credits for investments that build or rehabilitate owner-occupied homes in distressed communities. 

There is some uncertainty about Build Back Better moving forward without the leverage of the infrastructure package and continued advocacy is critical for its success. The plan is also facing renewed criticism from Republicans amid concerns about increasing inflation. However, White House National Economic Council Director Brian Deese cited high inflation as a reason to pass it, saying, “This bill is actually going to address the core costs that American families are facing in child care, in housing, in health care.”

If the bill is approved by the House, it will head to the Senate where lawmakers will vote and consider any amendments. The bill will then be sent back to the House for a final vote.

Deadlines Approaching on Government Funding and Debt Ceiling Limit
Lawmakers in Washington are approaching deadlines on government funding and the U.S. debt limit. Federal government operations are funded through Dec. 3. A partial shutdown is possible if Congress doesn’t approve a stopgap budget.

North Carolina Updates

State Budget Released by NCGA
Lawmakers in the NC General Assembly released a conference budget on Monday evening, reflecting a two-year budget totaling nearly $53 billion in state funds. The governor and Republican leadership were not able to reach agreement on key issues, particularly around Medicaid expansion, but Governor Cooper has indicated that he will sign the bill. This N&O article includes a breakdown of the topline numbers.

The major funding highlight for housing is the allocation of $170 million in federal funds to the Workforce Housing Loan Program (WHLP). This infusion of WHLP funding is critical, as previous affordable housing projects using the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit are facing significant shortfalls due to rising construction costs as a direct result of the pandemic. 

Additionally, some of the more concerning policy provisions relating to NCHFA that were included in earlier iterations of the budget have been removed, which is a win for housing advocates. Thank you to everyone that called and emailed in support of funding levels and communicated the effects of harmful provisions. 

A more comprehensive list of the housing investments can be found in the Coalition’s budget analysis.

The Senate passed the budget on Tuesday afternoon and it will now head to the House where it’s expected to pass as well. The process does not allow for amendments and it will be passed by a simple majority vote before being sent to the governor’s desk, likely by late Thursday or Friday.

New Legislative and Congressional District Maps Approved
State House and Senate lawmakers voted along party lines to approve new legislative and congressional district maps. Redistricting occurs every decade to account for changes in population. The new maps will be used for the 2022 election. 

Second Draft of 2022 Qualified Allocation Plan Released
The second draft of the 2022 Qualified Allocation Plan  is now available on NCHFA’s website.

The following are the significant changes (all changes are highlighted in the document):

  • Disaster Recovery language added for counties impacted by Tropical Storm Fred
  • Walk Score as a new Site Evaluation category
  • Removed language regarding Income Averaging being irrevocable
  • Maximum development costs per unit before negative points increased to $95,000 and $106,000 for chart A and B, and overall increased to $115,000
  • Second tie breaker changed to the highest overall Walk Score

Local Updates

Wake County Establishes an Affordable Housing Advisory Committee
The 16-member committee would be a mix of both housing experts and community members designated to identify ways to expand housing options and address affordable housing needs.

Wilmington Considers #3.5 million in ARP Funds for Gap Financing
Wilmington City Council will consider using $3.5 million of the city’s American Rescue Plan allocation to help push forward an affordable housing project.

Cary Adopts New Plan to Increase Affordable Housing
The Cary Town Council unanimously approved a new housing plan, which includes 22 ambitious action items designed to increase the supply of affordable housing.

Asheville Votes to Accept $4.6 Million from HUD
Asheville will receive $4.6 million in Housing and Urban Development funds, an increase over most years due to American Rescue Plan funds. The money will be used to help people facing eviction, foreclosure or homelessness. 

Reports, Resources and Events

Atlanta Federal Reserve and Philadelphia Federal Reserve – Virtual Event: Toward an Inclusive Recovery: Increasing the Housing Security of Vulnerable Renters Through Rental Assistance Wednesday, 11/17 @ 2:00 pm

NLIHC – Emergency Rental Assistance Spending and Performance Trends

Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University –

Housing Solutions Lab – Black Homeownership Trends in Small and Midsize Cities

Politico – Biden’s next inflation threat: The rent is too damn high

Market Watch – Housing inflation is getting worse. Will Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ program help renters and buyers?

Housing Wire – Regulators done playing nice with mortgage servicers

The Real Deal – State attorneys general call for eviction ban on subsidized renters

Next City – Here’s What Happens When Residents Buy Their Neighborhood

NY Times – With Cases Piling Up, an Eviction Crisis Unfolds Step by Step

WRAL – Soaring prices for land, materials, labor make it harder for affordable housing to be affordable

News & Observer – 

NPR WUNC – Democrats are seeking largest ever investment in affordable housing

WCNC Charlotte – ‘Rent’s too damn high’ Former City Councilman says Charlotte is no longer affordable

Indy Week – The Triangle’s Municipalities Can Address the Regions Dwindling Stock of Affordable Housing—If They Act Quickly and Decisively

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