New Negotiations Planned on Build Back Better Priorities
Democrats are signaling plans to revive a new version of President Biden’s tax and social spending package after Congress returns from recess. The Administration has also said it is looking to start up negotiations again on legislation to further its domestic policy agenda, which would be similar to Build Back Better, but significantly scaled back.
This time, the White House plans to only include priorities garnering support from all Democrats and staff will collaborate from the start with Senator Joe Manchin’s office. Negotiations won’t be discussed publicly in an attempt to protect relationships while conversations are ongoing. However, the Administration shared its high level goal for the package, which will be to lower costs for households while simultaneously addressing the deficit.
There’s no specific deadline to pass a bill at this point, but Democrats are seeking a legislative win ahead of the midterm elections. Some Senators are hoping to hash out a deal around Memorial Day or the mid-summer timeframe, but timing will be a challenge with only several months left to pass a package of considerable scale.
Legislative Vehicle & Republican Senate Sponsor Needed for LIFELINE ACT
There are no major updates on the LIFELINE Act (H.R. 7078), but a Republican co-sponsor is still needed in the Senate where legislation has yet to be introduced. Senator Patrick Leahy is teed up to be the Democratic original sponsor on a bipartisan companion bill in the chamber.
Regardless, the LIFELINE Act is not expected to move on its own, but has more chance of success if tied to a larger legislative vehicle. If Democrats can gain traction on a reconciliation bill, there could be opportunity to roll the LIFELINE Act up into a larger package such as that.
In the meantime, housing advocates and finance agencies are seeking approval from the U.S. Treasury on a workaround proposed by Vermont that would enable State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to be used in LIHTC gap financing situations. Essentially, the approach would allow funds to be granted up front in the full amount of LIHTC loans.
HUD Seeks to Reduce Housing Barriers for People with Criminal Records
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is seeking ways to make housing more accessible to people with criminal records. The result could impact nearly 1 in 3 Americans with criminal records. In a memo to staff, Secretary Fudge directed the department to “review programs and policies that may pose barriers to housing for persons with criminal histories or their families”, with the goal of making HUD policies “as inclusive as possible.”
COVID-19 Bill Held Up In the Senate
After lawmakers reached a deal on a $10 billion COVID-19 aid bill, the legislation was held up over disagreement around immigration restrictions that were put in place at the beginning of the pandemic. Consideration of the aid bill coincided with an announcement from the CDC that it would end a measure making it easier to deport migrants at the border. Republicans and some Democrats want to extend the order. The Senate is expected to come back to this issue after returning from recess.
North Carolina Updates
Public Input Sought by NC on Housing Plans, CAPER
The NC Department of Commerce and collaborating agencies are seeking public input on three documents that will guide housing activities in 2022 and evaluate progress from 2021. Each of these documents are available for public review and comment prior to being finalized and submitted to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
- 2021 North Carolina Consolidated Annual Performance Evaluation Report (CAPER) Review period 3/31 to 4/29 at 5 p.m.
- 2022 Annual Action Plan Review period 4/13 to 5/12 at 5 p.m.
- Recovery Housing Program Action Plan Review period 4/13 to 5/12 at 5 p.m.
The documents are available at the above links on the North Carolina Department of Commerce website. Written comments will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on the closing comment date and may be emailed to Valerie.Fegans@nccommerce.com.
A virtual public hearing to present each report and plan will also be held on Wednesday, 4/20 from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The public is invited to join the meeting. More information is available at this link.
Funds Still Available from NC Relief Programs
North Carolina agencies reported progress on recovery efforts to a legislative oversight committee on the state’s COVID relief funds. Reports showed that funds have been flowing at a steady pace, but assistance is still available for those who need it. One such program is the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which is managed by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency to help homeowners facing financial hardship due to the pandemic. Homeowners can apply to receive mortgage assistance online at www.nchaf.gov.
Demonstrators in Chapel Hill Marched for Affordable Housing
Around 100 demonstrators marched on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill over the weekend to draw attention to the town’s lack of affordable housing. The “House Us Now” march specifically highlighted the severe need for better options available to households earning 30% of the Area Median Income and below.
Task Force Formed for Affordable Housing in Black Mountain
A new task force has formed in Black Mountain to address the community’s growing need for affordable housing. The task force is particularly focused on improving conditions for local employees who prefer to live in the area, but are currently priced out.
Sanford Organizations Collaborate on 30 New Homes
A joint venture by Dogwood State Bank, the Cape Fear Collective and Brick Capital Community Development Corp. of Sanford is expected to deliver more than 30 new affordable homes over five years. The project is starting out with a $500,000 initial investment, with plans to grow the fund over time.
Hendersonville Planning Board Voted No on Rezoning for Senior Housing
The Hendersonville Planning Board voted not to recommend rezoning for 52-unit affordable, senior housing building. The board cited concerns about scale, compatibility with the neighborhood, and traffic.
80-unit Affordable Housing Project Approved by Hendersonville City Council
Hendersonville City Council voted to approve an 80-unit plan for affordable housing. Next steps for the Apple Ridge development will be to apply for tax-credit financing.
Barriers to Lease Up Faced by Emergency Voucher Holders in Charlotte
Charlotte allocated $2 million in federal pandemic relief to fund 178 emergency housing vouchers last year. However, only three are being used in current leases. Several factors, including not enough landlords who accept vouchers, have made using the emergency vouchers difficult. In addition, voucher payment standards aren’t keeping up with Charlotte’s rising rents.
Funding for 7 New Affordable Housing Projects Approved by Charlotte
Charlotte city leaders have laid out a new plan to spend more than $12 million from the city’s housing trust fund to build more affordable housing. Seven projects were approved for funding, which will create more than 600 affordable units. The majority of the new units will be rental apartments and 17 townhomes will be ownership units through Habitat for Humanity.
Reports, Resources and Events
Urban Institute – Webinar: Using American Rescue Plan and CARES Act Housing Resources to Support Reentry: HUD and Community Perspectives Wednesday, 4/20 @ 12pm
NLIHC – Election resources and webinar series: NLIHC’s Our Homes, Our Votes, April 18-Nov 14
Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies – Report: Emergency Rental Assistance Has Helped Stabilize Struggling Renters
Opportunity Starts at Home- The Story Of How The Federal Government Promised — And Undermined — Fair Housing
Charlotte Observer –
- Corporate landlords own thousands of homes in Mecklenburg. What can leaders do?
- OPED: There’s more to the story of rising rents in NC. Here’s what can be done to help