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Policy Update 5-4-22

Federal Updates

Lawmakers Hold Informal Talks on a Reconciliation Package
Prior to the midterm election in November, Democrats are seeking renewed efforts toward a reconciliation package that would accomplish key priorities on their legislative agenda. The talks are informal at this point, with Senator Schumer calling them “preliminary.” While few details have been shared, much of the focus will be on issues that garner support from everyone in the party, particularly Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Senator Manchin reiterated that his priorities will be to combat inflation and reduce the deficit. When asked directly about the status of housing investments in a future package, Manchin and other democrats have been noncommittal, saying that if they move forward with a package, it’s going to be significantly slimmed down from Build Back Better. 

Dear Colleague Letter Circulated for the LIFELINE Act
Although there’s been no legislative movement on the LIFELINE Act (H.R. 7078), Reps Alma and Rouzer circulated a Dear Colleague letter to encourage other members of the House to cosponsor the legislation. They are continuing to seek cosponsors, which could help the bill’s chances in the event that there’s a larger legislative vehicle to attach it to. 

North Carolina Updates

Without the LIFELINE Act, Additional Funds are Needed for WHLP
If the fix for LIHTC in the LIFELINE Act does not pass Congress, North Carolina will need to designate $50-60 million for the Workforce Housing Loan Program (WHLP) to activate what was previously allocated from federal State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). This is on top of an additional $40 million that’s needed for the current LIHTC cycle. 

North Carolina Early Voting Opened with Strong Turnout
Early voting for North Carolina’s primary election opened over the weekend and will run through May 14. Voters can register to vote in-person and cast a ballot at any open early voting location in their county. As of Sunday morning, 66,001 ballots had been cast across the state, which is up from 37,477 after three days of early voting in the 2018 primary.

Local Updates

$40M Housing Bond Expected on Buncombe County’s Ballot
Buncombe County Commissioners are moving forward with plans to place a $40 million affordable housing bond on the ballot for the upcoming election. Commissioners heard the results of a feasibility study last week and voted to pursue the bond at their meeting on Tuesday. The public survey found that 63% of respondents would support the bond. The housing bond is one of two that Buncombe County plans to run this year. The second is $30 million for conservation and protection of natural resources. 

New Eviction Prevention Program Approved for Raleigh
The Raleigh City Council approved funding for a new eviction prevention program in partnership with Campbell Law School. The program, called the City of Raleigh Housing Justice Project, was allocated $500,000 over three years to help renters prevent evictions and provide legal support for those who face losing their homes. Students at Campbell Law School will represent renters in court. The funding for the program comes from federal COVID-19 relief funds in the American Rescue Plan Act.

Cary Candidate Forum Focused on Affordable Housing, Followed by March to Polls
After hearing from candidates running for Cary Town Council, more than 100 demonstrators marched to the early voting polls last week. The event was organized by One Wake in a two-part effort to get out the vote and also raise support for the Penny for Housing plan they are advocating for within the town.

Fewer Apartments Are Accepting Vouchers in Greensboro
In Greensboro, fewer landlords are accepting housing vouchers and supply is low across all income levels. The Greensboro Housing Authority is working to find more landlords who will participate in the Housing Choice Voucher Program to increase options for voucher holders seeking housing.

Raleigh’s $1 Land Deal Moves Toward Construction
Last year, Raleigh sold a parcel of city-owned land for $1 to build affordable housing. The project is now moving toward construction and will have 17 homes available to buyers at various income levels. NCCU basketball coach Levelle Moton is partnering with the Raleigh Area Land Trust and a group of developers to build the affordable subdivision on Lane Street. The homes will be available for sale to people earning between 50-80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

Loan Approved for 72 Affordable Apartments in Siler City
Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a loan to Wallick Communities who plans to develop 72 affordable apartments with 1-, 2-, and 3-bedrooms. The community, called Oak View, will be available to households earning 60% AMI and below.

Rezoning Approved for Senior Apartments in Wilmington
Plans for a senior apartment complex in Ogden are moving forward after New Hanover County officials approved the rezoning for the land. Residence at Canopy Pointe apartments will be priced for households earning between 30% and 80% AMI and geared toward those over 55.

Groundbreaking Held in Charlotte for 51 Affordable Apartments
In Charlotte, Mayfield Memorial Community Development Corporation and DreamKey Partners held a groundbreaking ceremony for Sugaree Place, a 51-unit affordable apartment building with rental housing targeting households with incomes between 30-80% AMI.

Rezoning Under Consideration for Mixed-Income Apartments on Cary-Owned Land
The Cary Town Council is considering a rezoning proposal for a mixed-income apartment building on Maynard Rd. If approved, the project would be built on town-owned land. Half of the 130 units would be affordable to households earning 80% AMI or less.

Housing Renovations Planned for Durham YWCA
Durham’s Harriet Tubman YWCA will be renovated to provide affordable housing for households earning 30-60% AMI. At least 4 units will be set aside for people experiencing homelessness. 

Reports, Resources and Events

Opportunity Starts at Home – Webinar: How Multi-sector Partnerships Advance Racial Equity through a Housing Campaign, Wednesday, 5/4 @ 3pm 

NYU Furman Center – White paper: The Economic Challenge for the Rent Guidelines Board: Preserving Affordable Rent Stabilized Housing for the Long Run

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies – 

Bloomberg – 

U.S. & World Report News – Understanding Housing Inventory and What It Means for You

Forbes –

Mother Jones – New Data Shows Who, Exactly, Got Evicted the Most During the Pandemic

NPR – Millions of Americans are resorting to risk ways to buy an affordable home

The Wall Street Journal – Homeowner Groups Seek to Stop Investors From Buying Houses to Rent

Washington Post – As Pandemic Aid Ends, Struggling Families Face a Housing Nightmare

Wral Tech Wire – Triangle renters, home buyers caught in big price squeeze: Costs surge, no relief in sight

WBTV – Habitat for Humanity weathers pandemic supply chain issues to help Charlotte residents get affordable housing

Smoky Mountain News – Swain commissioner candidates weigh in on affordable housing

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