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Policy Update 12-11-19

Pamela Atwood, Director of Housing Policy

General Assembly/Budget

The General Assembly reconvened for a special session on redistricting in mid-November. Legislators were able to produce maps that have been deemed acceptable and have adjourned until January. Some of the new districts that will be used in the 2020 elections appear likely to cause changes in the balance of power. The Coalition will continue to monitor the GA when they return January and the possibility of an appropriation for the Workforce Housing Loan Program which remains unfunded due to the budget impasse.

Around the State

Landlord-Tenant Lawsuit Headed for the NC Supreme Court
A landlord-tenant lawsuit involving a federally-subsidized apartment complex in Winston-Salem will soon be heard in the North Carolina Supreme Court. “Winston Affordable Housing LLC (WAH) v. Deborah Roberts” made its way through several rounds of appeals after courts have ruled in favor of the plaintiff (landlord). 

Roberts, the tenant (defendant), has been living in a project-based Section 8 rental unit which was acquired by the plaintiff in 2010. In October 2016, WAH notified Roberts that her lease was being terminated due to lease violations, effective December 31, 2016. Roberts did not vacate the unit on December 31, 2016. On January 4th, 2017, WAH notified Roberts that the rental amount due had changed and that her federal rental subsidy had been terminated. On January 5th, 2017, WAH filed to evict Roberts under the premise of non-payment of rent because her rental payment was missing the amount previously covered by the subsidy.

Roberts, being represented by Legal Aid of North Carolina with help from the Yale Law School Housing Clinic and Disability Rights NC, argues that the cancellation of her rental subsidy constituted a “deceptive & unfair trade practice.” The case is headed to the NC Supreme Court. 

Read more about the case here.

Hurricane Matthew Recovery: Public Comment Period Opens for CDBG-MIT Action Plan
The NC Office of Recovery & Resiliency (NCORR) has released the latest Draft Action Plan that will direct the use of $168 million in CDBG-Disaster Recovery funds. This tranche of funding relates only to impacts from 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. The action plan formally identifies NCORR as the state agency that will receive and allocate funds, how funds will be used in accordance with HUD’s requirements, the process for distributing monies, and the specific locations that are eligible.

The most significant change in this current draft, is the addition of Columbus and Bladen counties to the list of Most Impacted and Distressed (MID) areas, bringing the total to six. The other counties that have previously been identified as MIDs are Cumberland, Edgecomb, Robeson, and Wayne counties. The draft also includes a change to the definition of “emergency repairs” that may allow some homeowners who began repair work on their homes prior to receiving any guidance from NCORR or any other government agency participating in coordinated recovery efforts, to potentially be eligible for financial reimbursements.

NCORR is accepting comments from the public until Monday 12/23 at 5 p.m. The action plan and other documents can be read here.

The Housing Recovery Support Function (RSF), which the NC Housing Coalition is the official facilitator, will hold its next meeting on Wednesday 12/18 at 10 a.m. at NC Emergency Management headquarters. The public is welcome to attend the meeting. 

2020 QAP Released
The NC Housing Finance Agency has released the final version of the Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP) that directs the state’s process for allocating Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in 2020. Preliminary applications for 2020 are due on January 24 at Noon. 

UNC-SOG Community Development Academy
Every year the UNC School of Government (UNC-SOG) hosts a 6-day intensive course on community development. Registration for the 2020 version of the course is now open and individuals working in Local Government, Community and Economic Development, Planning/Zoning and Tax/Finance are encouraged to attend. 

The course covers the concepts, methods, and strategies of community economic development. The course provides practitioners will significant perspective and practical skills surrounding community development specifically in North Carolina. The course is taught by UNC-SOG professor, and NCHC board member, Tyler Mulligan. 

The Coalition’s Director of Housing Policy, Pamela Atwood, will be among the 30-36 participants in 2020. In the past, Coalition Executive Director, Samuel Gunter, has also attended and found the experience invaluable to his work in affordable housing. Following successful completion of the course participants will receive a Certificate of Completion.

The Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU) offers scholarships for local government employees to attend courses held by UNC-SOG. For more information visit this website.

The planned dates for the course are:
March 10 – 12, 2020
April 21 – 23, 2020

Additional information and registration can be accessed here.

National

Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) Update
Widespread support for the AHCIA continues to roll in as Congress continues negotiations on appropriations and tax packages. Last week the Council of Independent State Housing Associations (CISHA) organized 30 state housing associations across the country, including the Coalition, to draft a letter of support for the AHCIA. The Coalition is a founding member and ED Samuel Gunter currently sits on their board. Additionally a team of 45 mayors from across the U.S. also assembled a support letter. 

North Carolina now also has the support of 10 of its 13 House of Representative members. Last week, Rep. Mark Walker (NC-6) and Rep. Greg Murphy (NC-3), officially signed on as co-sponsors to the House version of the bill (HR 3077).

Robert Marbut Confirmed as New Head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH)
To the disappointment and concern of housing and homelessness advocates across the country, Congress confirmed the appointment of community college professor and consultant, Robert Marbut, to head up the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness (USICH). 

Marbut is a known opponent to the “Housing First” strategy for reducing homelessness, despite decades of research and case studies that prove the concept as a best practice. Marbut’s stated belief for reducing homelessness is “Housing Fourth,” whereby homeless persons must “earn” their beds in shelters. He has also been quoted as saying that the act of providing free meals to homeless persons is “enabling” people to remain homeless.

The National Low-Income Housing Coalition organized over 75 several Congressional members to send a letter opposing the appointment. For more information and to read the NLIHC’s statement regarding Marbut’s appointment go here.

Reports/Resources/Events

National Low-Income Housing Coalition – “Long-Term Recovery of Rental Housing: A Case Study of Highly-Impacted Areas in New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy”

Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research – “The Effects of Small Area Fair Market Rents on the Neighborhood Choices of Families with Children”

Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research – “Impacts of Expanded Choice on Attrition in the Housing Choice Voucher Program” 

Center for Budget & Policy Priorities – “Off the Charts: Rents Have Risen More Than Incomes in Nearly Every State Since 2001”

Recommended read

Housing Call Notes 12-10-19

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