Lawmakers Hope to Finalize Reconciliation Package by August
Congress is back from a weeklong Independence Day break and they have just a few short weeks before leaving again for August recess. Lawmakers are aiming to finalize a reconciliation package during this timeframe. Timing is tight and the Senate may experience delays over the next week because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tested positive for COVID-19 and will be isolating until he is well.
However, Democrats are continuing to negotiate a reconciliation package deal and expect the proposal to be a priority this month. Senator Schumer submitted text to the Senate parliamentarian on July 7 to allow the federal government to negotiate prescription drug costs for Medicare. That kicked off a process where the parliamentarian reviews proposed bill text to make sure it abides by the Senate’s reconciliation rules. The rest of the package is still under discussion and isn’t ready for review yet. Senators Schumer and Manchin have been meeting regularly about other aspects of the bill, including tax reform and climate provisions.
Further adding to the dynamic, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave Democrats an ultimatum last week, saying there would be no bipartisan agreement on a bill to increase domestic semiconductor manufacturing if Democrats continue to pursue a reconciliation package.
The reconciliation package can be approved along party lines in the Senate without needing an additional 10 Republican votes. However, the package will need every single Democratic vote to advance.
Proposed HUD Budget Approved by House Appropriations Committee
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the draft bill for next year’s Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) budget. $62.7 billion is proposed for HUD’s affordable housing, homelessness, and community development programs, which is a $9 billion (or 17%) increase over last year’s enacted levels.
All 12 spending bills for FY23 have been approved by the House Appropriations Committee and the House is anticipated to hold a full floor vote on the omnibus spending package sometime in July.
Budget Passed by NCGA
The NC General Assembly passed a budget for FY23 earlier this month. The budget allocated increased funding for housing, including $190M for the Workforce Housing Loan Program and a $10M increase to the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund (HTF). This increases funding for the HTF from $7.7M to $17.7M, which is the highest level since 2007. More details can be found in the Coalition’s budget analysis.
In last year’s budget, $170M was allocated to the Workforce Housing Loan Program from federal State and Local Fiscal Recovery (SLFRF) funds. The funding hasn’t been spent yet due to barriers from U.S. Treasury guidance. To get around these barriers, the NCGA swapped out $170M in federal funds with $170M from the state’s General Fund.
However, a federal fix like the LIFELINE Act is still needed. The General Assembly plans to return in the fall to determine what to do with the unspent State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. With a federal fix in place, it would be more likely for these funds to be reallocated to housing.
The budget votes were largely bipartisan and the session was adjourned shortly after. Governor Cooper has the budget on his desk now and is still deciding whether he will sign, veto, or let it become law.
Allocation Plan for HOME-ARP Funds Released by NCHFA
The NC Housing Finance Agency released a draft of its HOME-American Rescue Plan (HOME-ARP) Allocation Plan in July. The plan details the agency’s intended uses of HOME-ARP funds. A summary can be found here. Public comments will be accepted through Friday, July 15 and a virtual hearing to present the plan is scheduled for Thursday, July 14 at 2pm. The hearing can be accessed via this virtual meeting link. Visit NCHFA’s website for more information.
Source of Income Protections Passed in Charlotte
The Charlotte City Council passed a measure to prevent discrimination based on source of income in housing units that receive city funding. Landlords who deny renters based on their use of housing choice vouchers as a form of payment will receive a warning or fine. The policy only applies to properties that receive city subsidies. Violations of the new policy will result in a written warning and mandatory compliance training. After the second violation, a daily $500 fee is imposed until the violation is fixed. Charlotte is the first city in North Carolina to pass such protections. Read more in this week’s blog.
Lease 2 Home Program Seeks Landlords in Wake
Wake County is seeking more landlords to join its Lease 2 Home program. The program creates affordable rental opportunities for people who don’t have a permanent place to live by offering incentives to landlords. Since the program began earlier this year, the county has been able to offer 150 housing options and 78 landlords have signed on to participate.
Funding for Housing Trust Fund Approved in Fayetteville
The Fayetteville City Council unanimously approved funding for a housing trust fund that will address the lack of affordable housing in the city. The fund includes local funding, as well as money from state and federal pandemic recovery efforts. Even with the funding approved by the council, Fayetteville’s economic and community development director, Chris Cauley said the city has a long way to go toward fully meeting housing affordability needs.
New Loan Program Announced in Charlotte for Prospective Homebuyers
House Charlotte, a city program tailored to help families with limited resources buy a home, announced this week it will offer up to $30,000 in loan options to buyers making 80% or below the area median income.
New Nonprofit Plans to Build Tiny Homes in Chapel Hill
A new non-profit, called Pee Wee Homes, is partnering with churches in the Triangle to build tiny homes for people experiencing homelessness.
100% Affordable Apartments Approved by City Council in Asheville
The Asheville City Council unanimously approved a new three-building apartment complex in South Asheville. The community on Sweeten Creek Road will be 100% affordable and bring 77 units with rents affordable to households earning 30%-80% of the area median income.
Affordable Homes Planned in Asheville through Volunteers of America
Volunteers of America (VOA) plans to expand its portfolio of affordable rental homes in South Asheville with the addition of 54 new units for seniors. Most will rent for $700 to $1,000. 12 will fall into a special program where residents would only pay 30% of their income for rent and VOA will incorporate city of Asheville housing vouchers to subsidize the unit’s monthly rent cost.
Reports, Events, Resources
The Hill – OPED: Congress must ease inflation by making housing more affordable
Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies –
- Did Housing Affordability Worsen During The First Year Of The Pandemic?
- Home Repair Programs Serve Critical Needs For Low-Income And Vulnerable Homeowners
The Stoop NYU Furman Center Blog: When Will Government Control of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae End?
Wall Street Journal –
- Housing-Affordability Index Drops to Lowest Level Since 2006
- Bidding Wars Overheated the Home-Buyer Market, Now They’re Coming for Renters
Shelterforce – Something Old, Something New: Biden’s Housing Plan
The Atlantic – Cancel Zoning
National Mortgage News – OPED: How lenders can help to alleviate the affordable housing crisis
Smoky Mountain News – OPED: We can overcome WNC’s affordable housing crisis