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Policy Update 12-2-21

Federal Updates

House Passes Build Back Better
The House of Representatives voted to advance the Build Back Better Act, including a historic investment of more than $150 billion for affordable housing and provisions for the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit and Neighborhood Homes. 

The House vote had been delayed by moderate Democrats who wanted to see the bill’s Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score. The CBO released an estimated 10-year cost of $1.68 trillion, which democratic lawmakers felt comfortable with and the bill moved through the House relatively quickly afterward.

The $1.75 trillion economic recovery package is now headed to the Senate, where it’s prospects are uncertain. Congress is facing a December time crunch with a lot to accomplish before the end of the year, including funding the government past the current December 3 deadline and raising the debt ceiling before the US defaults on its debt.

Despite this, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he hopes to pass the Build Back Better spending bill and send it to President Biden’s desk before Christmas. If it is taken up this month, the Senate is expected to make changes to the bill. There is some concern that housing could be a vulnerable area if changes are made, so advocacy is still critical to getting Build Back Better over the finish line. After passing the Senate, the House will need to vote a final time before sending the bill to President Biden for his signature. 

U.S. Representative G.K. Butterfield Retiring
Rep. Butterfield announced he will retire from Congress at the end of 2022 after finishing his current term. He serves North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which stretches through Eastern North Carolina. Rep. Butterfield is the second North Carolina Democrat to retire in recent weeks, joining Rep. David Price of Chapel Hill.

North Carolina Updates

North Carolina Passes State Budget
Governor Cooper signed the state budget into law after it passed through both houses with little opposition. It is the first time in 4 years that North Carolina will have a budget, with the Senate voting 41-7 to pass it, and the House providing its final approval with a 101-10 vote. Housing highlights include $170 million for the Workforce Housing Loan Program, which will be used to fill gaps in financing for LIHTC development. These funds are from the American Rescue Plan, so it will be a one-time allocation of federal money. 

The second major housing win is the removal of negative policy provisions that would have impacted the state’s ability to lend and finance affordable housing. These policy riders were previously proposed in both the House and Senate versions of the budget, but were pulled before the final bill passed. 

A key provision that was not included in the budget is a cap waiver for the LIHTC. Without this, it will be difficult to disperse the gap funding that’s being allocated to the Workforce Housing Loan Program. The Coalition worked on and was successful in getting the caps waived in a technical correction bill that passed Monday evening. 

More details on the budget’s housing investments and policies can be found in the Coalition’s budget analysis

The NCGA wrapped up most of its work for the calendar year on Monday, although vetoes, redistricting rulings or other items could bring lawmakers back to Raleigh later in December. The legislature will hold no-vote meetings until Dec. 10 and then lawmakers could return Dec. 30 for limited purposes if needed.

H334/S112 Budget Technical Corrections passes Monday evening: H334/S112 passed Monday evening as the NCGA was heading out of town. The bill included a number of technical corrections to the budget, but most importantly for housing advocates was the lifting of the WHLP caps that would have made the administration of the $170 million in funding included in the budget difficult. This was an oversight in the budget that the Coalition was quick to address and ensure was included in the technical corrections bill. 

HB110 Landlord Submission of HOPE Application passes Monday evening: HB 110 passed unexpectedly on Monday night as the NCGA was heading out of town. The legislation would make 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.

HOPE Program Reviewed at Governmental Operations Hearing
NCGA members reviewed HOPE program practices and progress to date at a Governmental Operations hearing in mid-November. The committee heard testimony from local Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) programs and considered a list of recommendations for the state’s program. Notably, lawmakers were weighing legislation that passed on Monday that would permit landlords to ask for HOPE funding on behalf of their tenants, among other things. Information was provided in presentations to lawmakers by NCORR and the Governmental Operations Evaluator. NC ranks 6th in the nation for spending of federal ERA money and 3rd for the number of households assisted. To date the HOPE program, which serves 88 counties, has approved 153,743 applicants and made $514 million in awards of the $768 million allocated to the program. Of note, of the more than 150,000 households served, the average household income is $14,000/year. 

Local Updates

Affordable Housing Approved for Chatham Park
Chatham Park developers will build 1,650 affordable homes and apartments in the planned 7,068-acre community under a policy worked out with the town board. 

Grant Awarded to Improve Housing Voucher Program in Transylvania County
Western Carolina Community Action received more than $25,000 from Dogwood Health Trust. The money will be used for a survey to improve its housing voucher program with the goal of making rent more affordable for Transylvania County residents.

Nonprofits Receive Funds for Chapel Hill Affordable Housing Developments
The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously voted to approve more than $660,000 in funding for affordable housing development, including for CASA, Community Home Trust, EmPOWERment, Inc. and Habitat for Humanity. 

Reports, Resources and Events

NLIHC – Some ERA Programs Close Application Portals as They Project Expending Funds

National League of Cities – The Data Cities Need to Understand & Address Their Eviction Crises

Urban Institute – Tracking Homeownership Wealth Gaps; Is Housing Wealth Equitable in Your City?

Washington Post – How the House spending bill expands affordable housing

The Ascent – With Soaring Home Prices, Government May Back Home Loans of Close to $1 Million 

The Wall Street Journal – Home Prices Are Surging. The Manufactured-Housing Industry Sees an Opening.

CityLab – The Housing Proposal That’s Quietly Tearing Apart Atlanta

New York Post – US home sales unexpectedly hit nine-month high

Bloomberg – Landlords Are Less Likely to Reply to Applicants with Black and Latino Names

Shelterforce – Blame Policies, Not Places, for Poor Health

TIME – Buying a House Feels Impossible These Days. Here Are 6 Innovative Paths to Homeownership

Politico – Renters strike back as cities cap price hikes by landlords


WFAE 90.7 – Is an end coming in January for what housing advocates call legal discrimination in Charlotte? 

Triad Business Journal – Homes selling quicker across Triad than elsewhere in N.C., study shows

Recommended read

Policy Update 11-17-21

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