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Policy Update 6-23-20

Around the State

HB 1200 Update
House Bill 1200, Rep. John Szoka’s bill to utilize $200 million in federal CARES Act resources to provide individuals with mortgage, rent, and utility payment assistance, was reviewed last week during a House Appropriations committee meeting. However, the bill is being stalled due to overall budget deficit concerns. General Assembly members in both chambers have decided to scale back the amount of CARES Act money that North Carolina will deploy at this time. There is some talk about legislators waiting to see if the federal government will allow states to use CARES Act money for filling budget gaps due to decreased revenue caused by the overall decline in economic activity. Right now it does not look like the HB 1200 will be moving forward this week. For more details and advocacy actions you can take, please visit this week’s blog.

$20 Million WHLP Funding Enacted
House Bill 1208, Funding for the Workforce Housing Loan Program (WHLP), was signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper on Friday, June 19th. The bill provides $20 million to WHLP for FY2020. HB 1208 was passed by both chambers of the General Assembly earlier in June. 

WHLP, which is administered by the NC Housing Finance Agency, is a non-recurring item in the state budget and because North Carolina does not have an enacted budget at this time, an individual spending bill was put forth by Rep. Donny Lambeth to appropriate the funding that WHLP has typically received in the budget. 

Thank you to all of you who contacted your General Assembly representatives to vocalize the need for continued support for the preservation and development of affordable rental housing.

Statewide Eviction Moratorium Expires
The statewide eviction moratorium put in place by Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order #142 expired over the weekend. The Governor’s office chose not to extend the moratorium. They are reportedly working to set up a structure to deploy rental assistance that can be utilized through any funding sources that come available. The program could be deployed using HB 1200 if that is passed, CDBG-CV funds, or some other federal sources to be created. 


Update on Housing/COVID-19 Relief in Congress
The House and Senate remain in a stalemate regarding a potential additional round of COVID-19 relief measures. The House passed the HEROES Act last month which 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. Thus far the Senate has refused to hold hearings or votes regarding the bill. 

Negotiations for the next COVID-19 relief package, whether that is the HEROES Act or some other package, remain inactive as members of Congress prepare to take a July 4th recess. It is unlikely that any relief measure will be passed before members leave D.C. 

Negotiations are expected to resume in mid-July. National advocates are seeing positive signs for emergency rental assistance provisions in particular. Several Senate Republicans have publicly reported that they have been hearing from their constituents about the need for rental assistance to endure the pandemic. National housing advocates are targeting specific Republican Senators, asking them to support the provisions for an additional $100 billion in emergency rental payment assistance. North Carolina’s Senator Thom Tillis is among those being targeted. Contact Senator Tillis about the need for emergency rental assistance.

House Introduces $1.5 Trillion Infrastructure Package
Yesterday the House unveiled the Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), a bill to provide $1.5 trillion towards infrastructure spending. The bill also includes numerous housing related provisions. Most notable for housing credit developers is the inclusion of numerous provisions that are a part of, or similar to, provisions in the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act (H.R. 3077/ S. 1703). In addition H.R. 2 also includes some of the proposed regulatory reforms that housing credit advocates have been seeking. 

The housing credit related provisions include establishing a permanent 4% housing credit rate and lowering the 50% threshold test. Visit the ACTION campaign website for a list of all the LIHTC related provisions.

The Moving Forward Act also includes $100 billion for affordable housing development and preservation and also establishes a new “Neighborhood Investment” tax credit to incentivize the rehabilitation of vacant homes and construction of new homes in distressed communities.

Reports & Resources

BBC News: Coronavirus: Why US is expecting an ‘avalanche’ of evictions

Princeton University’s Eviction Lab. – Pandemic Eviction Tracking Tool

Poverty & Race Research Action Council – “Recruiting Opportunity Landlords: Lessons from Landlords in Maryland

Urban Institute – “To Stay Stably Housed, Renters Need $16 Billion per Month in Housing Support during the COVID-19 Crisis

Urban Institute – “How Economic Crises and Sudden Disasters Increase Racial Disparities in Homeownership

National Housing Law Project – Fact Sheet: “Emergency Rental Assistance Principles & Recommendations” 

Recommended read

Update on House Bill 1200

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