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Policy Update 8-25-22

Federal Updates

Inflation Reduction Act Signed Into Law
President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 into law last week, finalizing Democrats’ signature legislation with investments in climate change, healthcare and taxes. This comes after lawmakers in the House returned from recess earlier this month to take up the bill, which passed in a vote of 220-207. The spending package had previously passed the Senate on a party-line vote after a 15-hour debate session. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote.

The package includes funding for energy-related housing measures, but excludes much needed direct investments in affordable housing like those that were proposed in Build Back Better. 

Congress officially adjourned for August recess shortly after passing the spending package. Focus is turning now to midterm elections as campaign season begins to ramp up.

Economic Justice Agenda Released by HUD
The Department of Housing and Urban Development released an economic justice agenda that describes actions the agency will take to help low-income renters build assets. The agenda, called Bridging the Wealth Gap, focuses on asset building through developing credit, increasing savings, improving access to housing counseling, and increasing homeownership opportunities.

The agenda “expands HUD’s work to build a critical continuum between federal rental assistance and homeownership programs by helping renters in HUD programs take the necessary first steps toward financial well-being and potential homeownership through saving, credit building, and banking.”

Section 4 Funds Awarded for Affordable Housing
HUD announced that it will make $41 million available for local affordable housing and community development activities that benefit people with low-incomes. The funding is awarded through HUD’s Capacity Building for Affordable Housing and Community Development program, also known as Section 4. Three national organizations, Enterprise Community Partners, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and Habitat for Humanity International, will receive the funds. 

State Updates

NC Lawmakers Focused on Midterms
The NC General Assembly is currently adjourned and plans to return in the fall prior to the next legislative session. Lawmakers in North Carolina are focused on the upcoming, statewide general election this Nov. 8, 2022, where all General Assembly seats will be decided by voters. For those looking for more information, WRAL has a 2022 Voter Guide with important dates and other voter details.

Local Updates

Single-Family Zoning Restrictions Loosened in New Charlotte UDO
Charlotte passed an updated Unified Development Ordinance (UDO), which is the document that guides land development in the city. The UDO will lift certain zoning restrictions, allowing duplexes or larger developments in areas currently zoned for single-family housing.

Some Charlotte residents that opposed the ordinance were concerned that the changes could lead to gentrification and higher housing costs. Supporters of the UDO have said it will help curb the housing shortage by allowing more units to be built where only a single family home could be placed before.

Examination of Corporate Landlords Added to National Association of Counties Agenda
Mecklenburg County officials are advocating for federal examination of the impacts that corporate landlords have on housing markets around the country. The Charlotte area continues to have high rates of investor-owned properties and Mecklenburg officials asked the National Association of Counties to urge federal agencies to research the effects. The issue was successfully added to the national group’s federal policy agenda. A second resolution was also supported by Mecklenberg officials and calls for legislation to prevent landlords from discriminating against renters based on source(s) of income. 

Rally for Affordable Housing Held in Durham
Durham nonprofits, including the Community Empowerment Fund and Southern Vision Alliance organized a rally over the weekend to advocate for increased affordable housing options in the city. Dozens of demonstrators attended the event, with the request that 30% percent of future housing developments in Durham be designated for people earning 30% of the area median income (AMI).

New Affordable Housing Celebrated in Wilson
The Wilson Housing Authority celebrated the opening of a new public housing project, Eatmon Townhomes. The 32 new rental units will replace those lost due to the storms and will allow residents to stay within their community near downtown Wilson. The project was funded by more than $2.7 million in federal disaster recovery funding through the Community Development Program of the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR).

Proposed Projects by Wake Tech and SE Raleigh Promise Advanced by Commissioners
Two affordable housing projects are moving forward in Wake County. The Board of Commissioners approved a leasing partnership for property donated by Wake Tech that will be developed into multi-family affordable housing. Located directly across from Wake Tech’s Public Safety Education Campus, the property will have 235 rental units for households earning less than 80% AMI.

Commissioners also approved a $1M loan for Southeast Raleigh Promise to support development of 27 affordable rental units in Raleigh. The proposed community will provide one, two and three-bedroom units for households earning 30%, 60% or 80% AMI. Units will be a mix of single-family homes, accessory dwelling units (ADUs), duplexes and townhomes. 

$12M Affordable Housing Bond Advanced to Ballots in Fayetteville
The Fayetteville City Council voted to move forward with placing a bond package on the ballot for voters to consider during the upcoming election. The bonds will include $12 million for affordable housing, as well as $60 million for public safety and $25 million for infrastructure.

Community Oversight Committee Established for Buncombe Bonds
Buncombe County Commissioners approved a resolution to create a Community Oversight Committee. The committee will keep track of investments made from housing and land conservation bonds if they are approved by voters during November’s election. The proposed bonds include $40 million for affordable housing and $30 million for land conservation. 

$8M in CDBG Awarded to Haywood County for Housing
Haywood County will receive $8 million in additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding from HUD for affordable housing. The funding comes from the Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2022, which was passed by Congress last September. According to the county, “​​We’ve never had this much money to be able to put towards affordable housing.”

Reports, Events, Resources

NLIHC – Summit: Emergency Rental Assistance: A Path to a Permanent Program, 10/17 in Washington, D.C. Livestream available.

NLIHC, NAEH, and CBPP – Webinar series: Housing First, 8/15 – 9/26 @ 2:30pm.

Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies – 

Bloomberg City Lab – 

The Atlantic – Why the Rent Inflation Is So Damn High

The Wall Street Journal – U.S. Housing Affordability in June Was the Worst Since 1989

Forbes – 

NPR – ‘We have nowhere to go’: Many face eviction during a crisis in affordable housing

Washington Post – Rising rents add to college students’ scramble for affordable housing

Shelterforce – What Is the Financialization of Housing?

Prism – As the housing crisis worsens, cities experiment with eviction prevention strategies

Raleigh N&O – What the Inflation Reduction Act will mean for North Carolina residents

The Center Square – – Years later, still no help for some from RebuildNCCharlotte Observer – ‘It’s really hard to get out.’ Many in Charlotte motels find housing options limited

Tech Wire – Looking for an affordable home in Wake County? Good luck

The Daily Tar Heel – ​​Chapel Hill organizations respond to ongoing affordable housing issues

Recommended read

Policy Update 8-10-22

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