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Policy Update 4-16-22

Federal Updates

Spending Package Negotiations Continue In Congress
In Congress, lawmakers are aiming to reach an agreement on a framework for a slimmed-down reconciliation package by July 4. The package under discussion is significantly scaled back from last year’s Build Back Better Act, and sources say it will focus on corporate taxes, lowering drug prices, deficit reduction and clean energy. The goal is to move the package through the House and Senate before Congress adjourns for August recess on August 8. There are a number of priority issues pulling focus in the Senate. However, a spokesperson for Senator Schumer said that reconciliation discussions are “still ongoing” and while some funding amounts have been floated, “no numbers are set yet”. 

The status of housing investments is currently unknown and advocates are continuing to highlight the need for this funding with their members of Congress. Thank you to those that participated in NLIHC’s day of action last week to ensure housing stays top of mind during negotiations.

Significant Update Proposed for Community Reinvestment Act
Three federal agencies are jointly proposing a substantial update to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to strengthen and modernize regulations. The CRA was enacted in 1977 and encourages banks to help meet the credit needs of the entire community in which they do business, with a particular focus on communities with limited resources. The three collaborating agencies –the Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation– want the rule to better address racial discrimination, which it what the CRA was initially intended to do. However, fair housing advocates say the language in the new rule isn’t explicit enough in prioritizing racial and ethnic groups, which is a missed opportunity for advancing equity. The public is invited to submit comments on the proposed rule through August 5, 2022. 

North Carolina Updates

NC General Assembly Budget Negotiations Underway
Leaders in the NC General Assembly are hoping to pass a budget bill and adjourn the current session by July 1. The primary purpose of this year’s short session is for lawmakers to approve changes to the second year of the already-enacted two-year budget. There is already agreement on a topline budget amount of roughly $30 billion and the rest of the budget framework is in negotiations. The legislature’s top priorities for the budget include raises for both state employees and teachers. There is also bipartisan support for reducing taxes, although it’s unclear what form that will take. Senate leadership and Governor Cooper would like to see Medicaid expansion included in the budget bill, but leaders in the House have said they won’t vote on Medicaid expansion this session. 

The Coalition has been meeting with lawmakers to advocate for its priorities, which focus on increasing funding levels for housing in the budget. There has been no movement on the NC Affordable Housing Act (HB 1114), which was introduced in the NC House earlier this month. Although the bill is unlikely to advance, it provides an opportunity to discuss unmet needs and how sufficient resources could help address the housing crisis across the state. 

Grants Available for Eastern NC Public Housing Recovery
The NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR) is accepting grant applications for the Public Housing Restoration Fund Program, with approximately $16 million to be awarded to public housing agencies experiencing unmet hurricane recovery needs. The economic support aims to increase the availability of safe, affordable housing in areas of the state that experienced unprecedented damage when hurricanes Matthew and Florence hit only two years apart. 

Local Updates

Affordable Housing Bond Approved for Ballot in Buncombe
Buncombe County leaders approved two bond referendums to appear on the November ballot for local voters. The measures include a proposed $30 million for land conservation efforts and $40 million for investments in affordable housing. 

Mecklenburg Public-Private Groups Partnering on Strategy for Affordable Housing
Mecklenburg County, Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing and Homelessness Strategy Initiative have announced the launch of a community-driven action plan to make affordable housing more accessible and sustainable to Mecklenburg County residents.

Virtual Candidate Forum Held by Greensboro Housing Coalition
Last week, Greensboro Housing Coalition held a virtual forum with candidates for local office to raise the issue of affordable housing leading up to the election.

Church in Charlotte Helping to Build Affordable Housing
In Charlotte, ​​Little Rock AME Zion Church is partnering with developers, community groups and the city to build a five story affordable apartment building on the church’s land. The City of Charlotte also contributed land, making the parcel large enough to accommodate 105 housing units. Half will be affordable with rent options for households earning 30, 60, and 80% of the area median income.

Charlotte UDO Update Underway
Charlotte is in the process of updating its Unified Development Ordinance and will hold a public hearing on its second draft on July 11. The UDO final draft release is set for mid-August.

Meta Announced Office Plans in Durham
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced plans to open offices in Durham, which could impact home prices over the next 5-10 years.

Belmont Tenants Asked to Vacate After Rent Hike
Residents of Cimeron Apartments in Belmont, Charlotte received 30-days notice to move due to a “new direction” the owner is choosing for renovation efforts with this property. This is after a rent hike was announced in April, increasing monthly payments from $600 to $1,275 a month.

300+ Affordable Units Coming to Durham
In Durham, construction is set to begin in the coming months on two new affordable housing complexes at 300 and 500 E. Main in the heart of downtown. Two county-owned parking lots will be converted into affordable housing communities with a total of 300+ units. The apartments will be income-restricted to those making 30-80 percent of the area median income (AMI).

Land Purchased by West Charlotte Land Trust for Senior Apartments
In Charlotte, West Side Community Land Trust purchased 4.5 acres on West Boulevard off of Tyvola Road last week. The land will be used for 120 apartments available to seniors 55 and older with incomes between 30-80% of the area median income. Rents will range from $474 to $1,500 a month.

Groundbreaking Celebrated in Rocky Mount
The Rocky Mount community celebrated the groundbreaking of Five Points Crossing, a four-story, 50-unit affordable apartment building. The apartments will be affordable to households earning up to 60% of the area median income.

Charlotte Extended-Stay Motel Scheduled to Close
Southern Comfort Inn, an extended stay motel in Charlotte is scheduled to close at the end of the month. The motel provides low-price rents to the residents and city leaders believe about 150-200 people are currently being served by the motel. The city, area nonprofits and churches are working with residents to find housing solutions before displacement occurs.

Reports, Resources and Events

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies – Virtual Event: The State of the Nation’s Housing 2022, Wed, 6/22 @ 4pm. 

Terwilliger Center – Virtual Event: Summit on Housing Supply Solutions, Thu, 6/23 from 10am – 5pm.

NLIHC – Report: State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds: Initial Trends in Housing Investments 

Governing – SRO Housing, Nearly Zoned Out of Existence, Could Re-Emerge 

Next City – When Preserving Affordable Housing Is Cheaper Than Building It

Shelterforce – 

New York Times – Twilight of the NIMBY

NPR – Rents across U.S. rise above $2,000 a month for the first time ever

Time – America Needs To End Its Love Affair With Single-Family Homes. One Town Is Discovering It’s a Tough Sell

Governing – Digital Atlas Reveals Zoning’s Impact on Affordable Housing

WRAL – Housing crisis compounded by record shortage of construction workers

ABC 11 – Rising rents forcing some to get second job, consider other options

Charlotte Observer – I covered affordable housing in Charlotte for 3 years. A sad pattern of displacement persists.

Smoky Mountain Times – Housing committee paints local picture

Recommended read

Preserving Affordable Housing: What NC faces as LIHTC properties move out of affordability

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