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Policy Update 6-10-20

General Assembly Update
The General Assembly Short Session continues this week. A handful of bills that would provide housing resources, including emergency assistance for renters and homeowners, have been introduced. Of the proposals to provide rental and mortgage payment assistance, House Bill 1200 appears to have the strongest support to move forward or be included within a larger COVID-19 response package. For more details on HB 1200, please visit today’s blog.

Another bill that the Coalition is monitoring is House Bill 1208 which would provide $20 million to the Workforce Housing Loan Program (WHLP). Since WHLP is a non-recurring item in the state budget and because North Carolina does not have an enacted budget at this time, HB 1208 would provide funding that WHLP has typically received in the budget. The bill has been passed through the House and currently is making its way through the Senate. As of this writing, the bill was scheduled to appear in the Senate calendars although that may change. In the meantime, please contact state Senators about the importance of these funds to the continued preservation and development of affordable housing. Click here to find your Senator. 

City of Greensboro Approves Use of CARES Act Funding to Prevent Homelessness
Last week Greensboro’s City Council voted to approve the use of $2.1 million in funds that the city will be receiving from the federal CARES Act to be used for homelessness prevention. The approval finalizes Greensboro’s plans to use CARES Act Community Development Block Grant funds (CDBG-CV) and Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG-CV) to address housing issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. The CARES Act includes over $12 billion in housing resources nationwide.

Greensboro is among a handful of entitlement communities to proactively utilize their CARES Act resources to address housing stability during the pandemic. Non-entitlement communities are slated to receive over $28 million in CARES Act CDBG-CV funds. North Carolina is also expected to receive an additional $28 million in CDBG-CV funds that can be used anywhere in the state. As of this writing, the Governor’s office reports that they are developing plans for how those funds will be utilized and distributed. However, details have not yet been released. The Coalition will alert members as soon as there is anything to report.


HEROES Act Update
The HEROES Act, (H.R. 6800), the next wave of potential federal COVID-19 relief funds, remains stalled in Congress. The bill includes $200 billion for housing resources, including $100 billion in emergency rental assistance, $11.5 billion in additional Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG), and $309 million for USDA Rural Housing programs. The bill has passed the House and awaits movement in the Senate. 

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is publicly calling on Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to bring the HEROES Act to the floor. Senator Schumer is drawing particular attention to the importance of the housing provisions of the HEROES Act. House members and national housing and homelessness advocates are asking people to contact Senators asking them to ask Sen. McConnell to begin taking up the HEROES Act. To find contact information for NC’s Senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, go here. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has also prepared sign-on letters for organizations to show their support for the HEROES Act and continued housing relief.

Ask HUD to Delay Housing Counselor Certification Deadline
The National Housing Resource Center and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition are asking that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) extend the August 1st deadline for housing counselor certification. The pandemic has caused delays in testing and made access to needed coursework more difficult. For this reason groups are calling on HUD to allow for extended time to meet certification requirements. To support this effort, please sign on to this letter by COB Wednesday June 10th.

HUD Proposes to Weaken Housing Protections for LGBTQ Persons
Last week a HUD proposal to weaken enforcement of the Equal Access to Housing rule component was cleared by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), part of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Equal Access to Housing rule provides protections against housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

The proposal is concerning because LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ peers and Black LGBTQ youth have the highest rates of youth homelessness. The proposed rule change is an example of how housing policy influences patterns of racial and social injustice.

Reports, Resources and Events

National Low-Income Housing Coalition – Fact Sheet, “Eligibility for Assistance Based on Immigration Status” 

NC Dept of Commerce & NCHFA: Virtual Public Hearing on the 2019 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) and the 2020 Annual Action Plan (AAP)

Monday 6/15 from 2 to 4 pm & can be viewed online

Economic Innovation Group – The Expanded Geography of High-Poverty Neighborhoods 

Economic Innovation Group –The Persistence of Neighborhood Poverty

WBEZ Radio (Chicago) – Where Banks Don’t Lend

National Low-Income Housing Coalition – Racial Equity During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic: Video of Diane Yentel’s Conversation with Ibram X. Kendi 

American Political Science Review “The Geography of Inequality: How Land Use Regulation Produces Segregation

Housing Policy Debate – “Housing Search in the Age of Big Data: Smarter Cities or the Same Old Blind Spots?” 

Recommended read

Legislative Alert: House Bill 1200

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