Around the State
General Assembly Update
The biennium process remains stalled. Despite weeks of talk that a budget would be released by the General Assembly, we continue to wait for the first public proposal from the state Senate. The House and Senate alternate starting the budget process with this year’s process supposed to start in the Senate. During the previous budget cycle, the House had released its proposal by April of that year (2019). With the current process so far behind its typical timeframe, we are hearing talk that the House may go ahead and announce their budget proposals if the Senate does not release something soon.
The main holdups regarding the Senate’s proposal are disagreement with the House regarding the total spending amount. The House has made clear they are interested in spending more than the Senate is. Also adding to the delay are potential issues that might prevent the Governor from supporting and signing a budget, such as medicaid expansion and teacher pay. The Coalition will continue to monitor the budget situation and share any details once they are known.
The “crossover deadline” has come and gone. For a look at some of the housing-related legislation that met the deadline for moving out of its chamber of origin, please visit today’s blog.
HOPE Program Still Open – Those Who Need It, Should Apply Now
The HOPE Program is once again open and accepting applications for rental and utility assistance. To apply, visit hope.nc.gov or call 888-927-5467. This phone number is for the whole state, though the state is only taking applications from 88 counties. If you are in one of the 12 entitlement counties or are a registered member of a tribe who are handling their own assistance programs, you can still call this number and will be connected to the right assistance program.
There are a couple of changes to note between last round and this round. This application round is limited to individuals 50% or below Area Median Income (AMI). In the first round, 91% of applicants fell into that category. In the first round, the HOPE Program received 40,000 applications in three weeks and ultimately awarded 56,000 awards to 36,000 families, totaling about $133M in rental and utility assistance. The first round covered about six months of payments.
This new pot of rental assistance coming from the federal level is about $1.1 billion for the whole state. This is a much bigger program and will cover 12 months of assistance: 9 months in arrears and 3 months of rent. Once a recipient reaches 3 months of rental assistance, they will be able to reapply if they are still having trouble paying your rental assistance.
It is going to be crucial that we get the word out across the state to make sure that folks who are not aware of the program opening become aware and are able to access the program. These payments go directly to landlords and utility companies as before. There was added guidance in Round 2 of the federal rental assistance that asked states to create an avenue for tenants to receive payments directly if the landlord refuses payment. The state has not yet figured out how that mechanism is going to operate, but it may be forthcoming. The only requirements on the part of the landlord is that they not evict the tenant 60 days past what they are being paid for.
You can view additional details about this round of the HOPE Program here. Connect with the folks in need and make sure they are able to access these resources to get these payments flowing. If you have any questions, please reach out. We will continue to provide updates on the program.
White House Announces Revisions to American Jobs Plan
Last week the White House and HUD announced revisions to the housing portion of the American Jobs Plan, President Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure package. The previous version proposed $213 billion for housing investments. The revision increases this amount to $318 billion in housing investments. Some of the elements include an expansion of the LIHTC program by $55 B in credits, $45 B for the National Housing Trust Fund, $2B for Project-Based Rental Assistance, and a new grant program for local governments that eliminate zoning barriers to housing development.
Negotiations continue between the White House, Congressional Democrats, and Republican leadership. The main points of contention remain the total spending amount, what to spend on, and how to pay for the measures. The White House and supporters of the American Jobs Plan are calling for an infrastructure package that includes support for a broader type of “infrastructure,” one that includes elements of the modern social infrastructure, such as housing and childcare access. Opponents would prefer to use the more traditional view of infrastructure as only literal elements such as roads, bridges, and water services.
With the potential for massive investment in housing across the country, at levels not seen in modern times, it is vital for those interested in housing issues to continue to communicate with NC’s Congressional delegation about the importance of housing and its critical role as part of the social infrastructure that keeps a society functioning.
President Releases Full FY 2022 Budget Request
The President also recently released the full details of the new administration’s first budget request for Fiscal Year 2022. For housing, the request includes a $9 billion (15%) increase to HUD’s budget from FY21. The increased funding includes new resources for the largest expansion of the Housing Choice Vouchers in the program’s history, increased funds for public housing operations & repairs, fair housing activities, and more. Congress now begins its work on its appropriations recommendations.
UNC School of Government – American Rescue Plan: Local Government Funding for Affordable Housing Development
NYU Furman Center – Renters and Recovery – NYU Furman Center
ACTION Campaign – AHCIA of 2021 Video Series
National Low Income Housing Coalition and Brandeis Institute for Economic and Racial Equity – MISDIRECTED HOUSING SUPPORTS: Why the Mortgage Interest Deduction Unjustly Subsidizes High-Income Households and Expands Racial Disparities
Federal Reserve Board – Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2020
Urban Institute – Homeownership Is Affordable Housing