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Policy Update 12-15-21

Federal Updates

Senate Version of the Build Back Better Act Released
The Senate Finance Committee released its version of the Build Back Better Act last week with the historic investments in housing intact. The Housing Credit provisions are largely similar to those passed by the House of Representatives in November, with a few key changes that were made at the request of the affordable housing industry:

  • Extending the allocation increase through 2025 instead of 2024, which requires a much lower allocation increase in the earlier years to eventually achieve the same allocation increase in 2025, but provides a much better position to extend the provision beyond 2025.
  • Modifying the Extremely Low Income (ELI) basis boost to clarify that the boost applies to the fraction of units that serve ELI households and language relating to Private Activity Bond issuance.

Build Back Better’s prospects in the Senate are still uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing to take up and pass the spending bill before Christmas. However, negotiations are still ongoing with Senator Joe Manchin, who has said he has outstanding concerns over the size and scope of the package. He and Senator Sinema have not yet publicly agreed to vote for the bill. 

If Build Back Better is voted on and passed by the Senate in December, the House will need to vote a final time to approve any changes before it can move on to the President’s desk for his signature.

Join December 17 Day of Action to Urge Your Senators to Pass the #BuildBackBetter Act!
Join NLIHC, the Coalition on Human Needs, and other advocates across the nation for a Digital Day of Action on Friday, December 17 to urge your senators to pass the “Build Back Better Act” and its unprecedented investments in rental assistance, public housing, and the Housing Trust Fund! The Senate could vote on the bill as soon as the week of December 20, but congressional leaders must first secure the support of every single Democratic senator.

We encourage all advocates to participate by emailing and calling your senators and posting on social media using the hashtag #BuildBackBetterAct. NLIHC’s HoUSed #BuildBackBetter Advocacy Toolkit includes talking points, sample op-eds, and social media messages that advocates can use.

Stopgap Spending Measure and Debt Ceiling Increase Passed by Congress
Lawmakers passed a stopgap spending measure at the beginning of the month to avert a government shutdown and extend current funding levels through February 18th. This is the second continuing resolution passed by Congress since September, which buys the House and Senate Appropriations panels more time to negotiate the annual spending bills that fund federal agencies.

The Senate also passed a bill on Thursday that will enable Congress to lift the debt ceiling and avert what would be the first-ever default in U.S. history. 10 Senate Republicans joined Democrats in passing the bill, which creates a special process to suspend the filibuster on a one-time basis and enable the Senate to lift the debt ceiling with a simple majority vote. 

Shortly after, the Senate voted to increase the debt limit by $2.5 trillion and extend it into 2023. The House held a vote early Wednesday morning to pass the bill as well and it will now head to the President’s desk for his signature.

North Carolina Updates

House Bill 110, Landlord Submission of HOPE Application Signed Into Law
Governor Cooper signed HB 110 into law, which enables landlords to apply for rent and utility assistance on behalf of tenants. The legislation makes modifications to the state’s emergency rental assistance program that would require the state to: 

  • Accept applications from landlords;
  • Open applications to hotel/motel residents; 
  • Extend from 12 to 15 months assistance; 
  • Cover late fees; and 
  • Accept utility-only applications. 

North Carolina’s 2022 Primaries Postponed Until May 17

In a ruling earlier this month, the North Carolina Supreme Court delayed all of the state’s 2022 primary elections and halted the ongoing candidate filing period. The primary is postponed from March 8, 2022 to May 17, 2022 as courts consider lawsuits challenging the state’s new legislative district maps. 

Local updates

Onslow County Adds 82 Affordable Housing Units
The Onslow Board of Commissioners voted to accept a proposal from Carolina Statewide Development that will bring at least 82 affordable housing units to the county in the next year. The county will dedicate $5 million in American Rescue Plan funds toward the project, which will be constructed across from the Jacksonville Commons.

Zoning Rules for Tiny Homes Approved By City of Raleigh
The Raleigh City Council approved new zoning rules allowing tiny homes to be built throughout the city. The new rules cap tiny homes at 600 square feet, which is slightly bigger than normal tiny homes. They will be allowed as standalone buildings or in tiny home neighborhoods or cottage courts with a shared space.

Three Housing Positions Added to Buncombe County Planning Department
The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners approved three new housing-focused positions in Buncombe’s Planning Department. The new staff roles will help the department’s Community Development Division manage housing feasibility studies and oversee other affordable housing efforts.

Plans Modified for Asheville Emergency Shelter at Ramada Inn Site
The City of Asheville will no longer pursue an emergency shelter at the Ramada Inn property located near the River Ridge Shopping Center. They are working with a new partner to explore the idea of permanent supportive housing instead.

Parkside by Hickory Grove Opens in East Charlotte
New, affordable apartments are opening in east Charlotte with rents starting at $500. The Parkside development was constructed by NHE and contains 80 new units.

Reports, Resources and Events

NLIHC + Coalition on Human Needs – Digital Day of Action: Pass the Build Back Better Act Friday, 12/17.

NLIHC – Virtual Event: Housing Policy Forum 2022 3/22 & 3/23 from 12:30 – 5:30 PM

NLIHC – Treasury Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) Dashboard

Urban Institute Housing Matters – Naming Housing as a Human Right Is a First Step to Solving the Housing Crisis

Bipartisan Policy Center – Understanding and Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities In Housing

Nonprofit Quarterly – Narrowing the Racial Homeownership Gap: A New Strategy for Low-Cost Cities

 The Mountaineer – Affordable homes, a neighborhood at a time

Independent Weekly – 

Charlotte Observer – 

The Coastland Times – State budget includes funding for several local projects

News & Observer – 

WRAL – Median price of Wake County real estate hit new high in November – $405,000

Recommended read

2021 North Carolina Housing Coalition Awards

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