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Policy Update 9-9-21

Pamela Atwood, Director of Housing Policy

Around the State

Further Delay of State Budget
Heading into the fall, it looks like North Carolina will continue without an enacted state budget. Last week, legislators revealed that they are still in disagreement about spending amounts. We are hearing that negotiations have become difficult around the issue of how much to spend exactly. While we do not have the details on the issues in question, it can be assumed that all resources may be in question, including the funds for housing related programs. In particular, the $200 million for gap financing of Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) may be vulnerable. Continued advocacy is necessary to ensure that housing programs are included in whatever may be the final result. If the NC House and Senate are unable to come to an agreement, the state will continue to operate on previously enacted funding levels, as they are now since a budget was not passed in the previous budget cycle in 2019. 

While the lack of a budget is concerning for many reasons, there could still be an opportunity for housing resources if the General Assembly chooses again to pass “mini-spending” bills in lieu of a formal budget. This was the case in 2019 when the Workforce Housing Loan Program received funding for 2020 through such a mechanism. With mini-spending bills a possible reality again, it is crucial to continue to keep housing in spending discussions. For more information see our previous updates. 

Governor Cooper Vetoes HB 352 (Hotel Safety Issues)
HB 352 (Hotel Safety Issues) puts vulnerable tenants at risk by taking away important rights that have been in place in NC for 30 years. The proposed legislation would remove tenant protections for motel renters, protections that have been the law in North Carolina for 30 years. HB 352 will only worsen the housing crisis for families struggling to find housing by increasing our homeless population and straining public resources.  

HB 352 would automatically reclassify all those staying in motels as “transient guests” for the first three months of their stay. This will allow motel owners and managers to treat tenants who complain about living conditions or are late with their rent as trespassers and forcibly remove them or have them arrested. 

In short, by removing decades-long recognized tenant protections the bill will force vulnerable community members into homelessness. Governor Cooper has vetoed the bill and we applaud him for his leadership and thank him for recognizing the harm this bill could bring. However, we now need to call on the NC General Assembly to uphold the veto. Please click here to urge NC House & Senate members to sustain the veto on HB 352.


Supreme Court Ends CDC Eviction Moratorium
The Supreme Court ruled on August 26th to end the temporary stay on a lower court ruling seeking to overturn the federal eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In doing so, the Supreme Court’s ruling invalidates the federal eviction moratorium, eliminating vital eviction protections that have kept millions of households – predominantly people of color – stably housed.

The case to overturn the eviction moratorium was brought to the Supreme Court by the Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors, backed by the National Association of Realtors. The Realtors’ and the Supreme Court’s actions to overturn the eviction moratorium comes as the delta variant of COVID-19 overwhelms pediatric and other hospitals in Alabama, Georgia and throughout the country. Both Alabama and Georgia have spent less than 3% of their emergency rental assistance (ERA) funds, and many other states and cities continue to struggle to get ERA to the tenants who need it to stay stably housed.

The federal eviction moratorium was a lifeline for millions of families, the last remaining federal protection keeping many safely and stably housed during the pandemic. The tragic, consequential, and entirely avoidable outcome of this ruling could be millions of people losing their homes this fall and winter, just as the delta variant ravages communities and lives.

For Renters in Need of Assistance:
HOPE Program Information (Emergency Rental Assistance)

ERA Spending Remains Slow Nationally
The U.S. Department of the Treasury released updated Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) spending data through July 31, revealing that an additional $1.68 billion in ERA funding was spent in July, bringing the total ERA spent to just over $5 billion. After steady increases in ERA spending rates from January through June, the amount spent in July only grew slightly, increasing from $1.53 billion in June to $1.68 billion in July. A total of $4.7 billion in assistance has been paid to households and a total of $5.2 billion has been expended, including administrative costs and housing stability expenditures.

Update on Social Infrastructure Budget Conciliation Package
The Senate Banking and Housing Committee and House Financial Services Committee are working to finish writing legislation to invest more than $330 billion in affordable housing through a $3.5 trillion infrastructure and economic recovery reconciliation bill, which could pass in the Senate with a simple majority rather than the 60 votes required for other legislation.

It is critical that Congress use this opportunity to prioritize investing in decent, accessible affordable housing for those with the greatest, clearest needs – people experiencing homelessness and people with the lowest incomes.

To ensure these investments are used to help end homelessness and housing poverty in America, advocates should urge their senators and representatives to include full funding for the following top priorities: investing $180 billion to expand rental assistance for those most in need, providing $70 billion to preserve public housing, and investing $45 billion in the national Housing Trust Fund to build and operate rental homes for people with the lowest incomes.

The House Financial Services Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill on September 13, before it is combined into a larger infrastructure and economic recovery package for a vote on the House floor by the end of the month. Democratic leaders expect the bill to be enacted and signed into law by mid-October.

Contact your senators and representatives – Tell them to ensure that there is robust investment in housing programs and resources


Eviction Lab –Preliminary Analysis: 11 months of the CDC Moratorium

Goldman Sachs says 750,000 households could be evicted this year unless Congress acts

Kem Gardner Institute at University of Utah – The Impact of High-Density Apartments on Surrounding Single-Family Home Values in Suburban Salt Lake County

National Housing Law Project – An Advocates’ Guide to Tenants’ Rights in the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program.

Recommended read

Policy Update 8-26-21

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