Around the State
General Assembly Update
Last week, the NC General Assembly passed HB 196, directing a variety of COVID-19 related responses. Included among the bill’s provisions are numerous policies concerning the state’s administration of $546 million in federal emergency rental assistance (funds from December’s COVID-19 relief package). The Coalition is concerned about the potential for these changes to slow down the deployment of those resources. For more details about those provisions, please see last week’s Legislative Alert.
The bill currently sits on Governor Roy Cooper’s desk, awaiting his action on the bill. Cooper has until March 14th to either sign the bill into law, veto it, or do nothing. In the event that he does nothing, the bill will then go into effect, just without his official endorsement or signature. Since there are numerous provisions (unrelated to housing) that do have benefits in addressing a range of COVID-19 impacts, and because the bill passed unanimously in both chambers of the General Assembly, most speculation is that the Governor will sign the bill or allow it to go into effect. Senator Natasha Marcus was the lone Senator to voice concerns over the impacts to rental assistance during the Senate floor debate.
Otherwise in the General Assembly, there continues to be work on additional COVID-19 related bills, such as bills dealing with vaccination sites and the like. The Coalition will continue to track those efforts and inform our network of any housing impacts. Appropriations work should receive renewed attention in the weeks to come and housing programs will be on the Coalition’s radar. With the additional COVID-19 relief likely to be enacted this week at the federal level, we expect that the GA will again need to turn its attention to deploying those resources. This year’s Long Legislative Session is expected to be particularly long this year and the GA will likely be in session late into 2021.
Eviction Moratoriums Expiring Soon
While rent relief is presumably moving forward, the expiration of the national CDC eviction moratorium is fast approaching on March 31st. Governor Cooper’s executive order affirming the applicability of the moratorium in North Carolina also is set to expire on March 31st. The Coalition and thousands of groups across the country are calling on the CDC and President Biden to extend, strengthen, and enforce the CDC order.
As of this writing, there has been no word of either the national moratorium or the Governor’s EO being extended. The expiration of these protections further compounds the need for administrators and policymakers to ensure these assistance programs move as quickly as possible. The Coalition will alert its networks of any changes. The Coalition is one of several groups across the state calling on the Governor and the Utility Commission to implement protections against evictions and utility disconnections for nonpayment. More information can be found here.
Unhoused People Eligible to Receive COVID-19 Vaccinations Starting March 24
The NC Department of Health & Human Services (NCDHHS) recently announced further information about who will be eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations in Group 4 on March 24th. Among those, people currently experiencing homelessness or staying in shelters will be eligible. Unhoused people and those in precarious housing situations are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 and more likely to become severely ill, increasing the chance of death. Housing providers that work with homeless populations should see this information for more information on assisting people in getting access to vaccines. Today at 3pm, Governor Cooper is expected to announce an updated vaccination schedule that may open eligibility to Group 4 as early as March 14th.
American Rescue Plan Act Approved by Congress
Wednesday afternoon the House passed the final version of the American Rescue Plan Act, providing $1.9 trillion in resources to help address the vast range of health, economic, and social impacts of COVID-19. The bill now moves to President Biden’s desk for signature, which is expected to occur on Friday afternoon.
In terms of housing resources, the final legislation includes close to $50 billion for housing programs:
- $27.4 B for emergency rental assistance (ERA) including
- $21.55 B in ERA distributed through the Treasury Department
- $5 B for emergency housing vouchers for people experiencing homelessness or fleeing domestic violence situations
- $750 M for ERA in tribal areas and $100 M in rural communities
- $5B in HOME funds to be used for long & short-term assistance to people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. Acquisition & development of permanent supportive housing is an eligible long-term funding use.
- $10 B for mortgage payment assistance to homeowners
- $100 M for housing counseling services
- $5 B for utility payment assistance
- $800 M for education resources to assist children & youth experiencing homelessness in being able to continue to participate in school as distance learning continues
The bill includes numerous other resources not directly about housing, but which we know are also utilized by people to help with housing stability: expanded unemployment insurance benefits, $1400 direct stimulus checks, and an expanded child tax credit.
Thank you to all individuals and organizations that contacted NC’s Congressional delegation to urge their support of housing resources in addressing COVID-19’s impacts.
Former Rep. Marcia Fudge Confirmed as HUD Secretary
On Wednesday Ohio Congressperson Marcia Fudge was confirmed by the Senate to become the new Secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by a vote of 66 in support and 34 opposed. Fudge was sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris later in the evening. To learn more about Fudge and her vision for leading HUD, please visit this site.
Reports, Resources, and Events
Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia – Renters’ Experiences During COVID-19
HUD – 2018 LIHTC Tenant Tables
NYU Furman Center, Housing Initiative at Penn, & National Low Income Housing Coalition – Advancing Racial Equity in Emergency Rental Assistance Programs
National Hazards Center of University of Colorado at Boulder – Damage, Dislocation, and Displacement After Low-Attention Disasters
National Low Income Housing Coalition & National Association to End Homelesness – Webinar: Using FEMA for Non-Congregate Shelters
Tuesday, March 16 at 1:30 pm, link to register
UNCG’s Center for Housing & Community Studies & Wake Forest University’s Law School
Presenting April 2021 workshop on how to clarify title for heir properties. If you are interested in attending the workshop, please email Atigre’ Farmer – firstname.lastname@example.org.