Around the State
General Assembly Update
The North Carolina General Assembly continues their work at a fast pace. Over two hundred bills have been filed. Some that the Coalition is tracking closely are specifically related to housing issues:
- House Bill 352 (Hotel Safety Issues)/HB 366 (Regulatory Reform Act of 2021) – Defines transient occupancy in hotels, motels, or other properties usually considered to be transient occupancy – to be less than 90 days.
- Senate Bill 349 (Increase Housing Opportunities) – Bill around zoning & land use that seeks to make certain “missing” middle type housing (duplexes, ADUs,) able to be built by right, it also seeks to penalize local govts for restrictions around development.
NCHC opposes the proposed definition of transient occupancy as it endangers many tenants who have turned to hotels, motels, and “travel lodging” as a means of emergency housing because traditional housing is out of reach. For more information, see today’s blog post.
Regarding SB 349, NCHC is not taking a position as there are positives and negatives to the bill as proposed. While the zoning changes would certainly allow for increased density and the development of additional housing units, other provisions may limit local governments’ ability to address local housing needs in targeted and tailored ways. Allowing more development to occur does not guarantee that such development will be affordable to those who need it most. The Coalition will continue to track the bills movement and share information widely. If you would like more information about SB 349 and how it may impact your community contact NCHC’s Policy Director, Pamela Atwood: email@example.com.
In other NCGA activities, work continues on the budget. The Senate is working on finalizing spending targets for the major categories of spending. Once those are agreed upon, detailed spending will be filled in. For more info on NCHC’s appropriations targets, please visit our website.
Homeowner Relief Funds on Their Way to NC
Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department released information regarding the $10 billion in COVID-19 relief to homeowners struggling with housing costs. The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) will see North Carolina receiving approximately $273 million in funds that can be used for mortgage payment assistance, loan modifications, foreclosure prevention, and other needs to prevent homeowners from losing their homes.
The Treasury Department is running a similar process to what was required to access the emergency rental housing from the December omnibus relief package, requiring qualifying jurisdictions to complete a formal request via an internet portal. Applications are due on April 25th. We hear that the state (via the NC Pandemic Recovery Office) is aware of the request requirement and deadline and are in the process of completing the required process. The Coalition will update our networks as we know more. For more information about the use of the HAF, see below.
Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Action (AHCIA) Reintroduced in Congress
The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (AHCIA) was reintroduced in Congress last week. Some of the highlights of the new version are:
- 50% expansion in the amount of 9% credit authority
- 50% basis boost for projects that target ELI renters in at least 20% of rental units
- Streamlines income averaging for bond deals
- Prohibits the requirement that some states, such as NC, have that requires projects to show evidence of local support by documenting approval from the local government
- Brings the use of LIHTC in-line with tax incentives around renewable energy & energy efficiency, making the use of such technology and building methods more feasible
For more information, please visit the ACTION Campaign’s Detailed Bill Summary The Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2021.
Other New Housing Bills
2021 Discussion Draft – Housing is Infrastructure Act – The language of this bill will likely make up most of what will become the housing portion of the upcoming American Jobs Act, the White House’s plan to address infrastructure, job creation, and climate change.
Senate Bill 265 – Public Housing Fire Safety Act – Creates a grant program for Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) to access additional funds needed to retrofit projects.
CFPB Announces Major Move to Enforce the CDC Eviction Moratorium
Monday afternoon the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced more specific moves they will be taking to enforce the CDC’s national eviction moratorium. Based on the research and outreach that the CFPB and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have completed since they were tasked last month with enforcement of the moratorium, these agencies have determined that they have the capability to immediately utilize the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) to enforce protections for tenants being unlawfully evicted per the CDC moratorium. The CFPB has issued a rule change that would bring certain types of landlords or third parties, such as attorneys that specialize in managing evictions, under the requirements of the FDCPA by including them in the definition of “debt collectors.” FDCPA requires debt collectors disclose to consumers, in this case tenants, of their rights and prohibits actions that mislead, misrepresent, or misconstrue the options available to the tenant. FDCPA also prohibits actions that are considered harassment, intimidation, and other forms of predation.
FDCPA is a well established area of enforcement with routes available to file complaints about violations, best practices for disclosure, and also the ability for individuals to bring civil lawsuits against debt collectors. Individuals are also eligible for damages from violators of FDCPA requirements. Lawyers representing tenants now have these methods available to them in disputing evictions that should be prevented by the CDC moratorium.
The rule change takes effect on May 3rd. For the time being this enforcement move applies only to entities that qualify as “debt collectors.” Unfortunately many small landlords and property managers likely do not meet the FDCPA definition. The CFPB is aware that this leaves many renters vulnerable to violations of the moratorium and will continue to examine how else they can provide enforcement.
To learn more about the CFPB and FDCPA please visit the following links:
- Consumer watchdog issues policy to strengthen national eviction moratorium
- CFPB Rule Clarifies Tenants Can Hold Debt Collectors Accountable for Illegal Evictions
- Know your rights as a renter facing eviction
Treasury Department Releases Guidance for Homeowner Assistance Fund
Last week the U.S. Treasury Department released guidance regarding the use of the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF), the $10 billion in funds to assist struggling homeowners that passed as part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in March. The guidance outlines amounts for each state or territory and the parameters for their use. North Carolina will be receiving about $273 million. The guidance defines costs that homeowners may receive assistance, including mortgage payments, property taxes, HOA dues, utility costs, and buying down interest rates. Per the guidance, households with incomes up to 150% of Area Median Income (AMI) may be eligible for assistance. For more visit, HOMEOWNER ASSISTANCE FUND GUIDANCE US DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY.
University of California, Terner Center for Housing Innovation – Crisis, Response, and Recovery: The Federal Government and the Black/White Homeownership Gap
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) – More Housing Vouchers: Most Important Step to Help More People Afford Stable Home
Eviction Lab – Top Evicting Landlords Drive US Eviction Crisis
Urban Institute & Moody’s Analytics – Overcoming the Nation’s Daunting Housing Supply Shortage