Addressing our Potential Housing Crisis
North Carolina is facing a potential housing crisis that could significantly hamper the state’s economic recovery. It is critical for the North Carolina General Assembly to take action to limit foreclosure and evictions. There is currently legislation pending that could help with some of our biggest challenges:
- In July, one-third of families could not pay their rent and 1 in 5 may face eviction by the end of the year.
- By the end of July, 23 percent of North Carolinians were housing insecure.
- As many as one million families in North Carolina have fallen behind on their electric, water, and sewage bills.
A growing housing crisis will negatively impact the entire state. In some cases, cities that own or operate their own utilities have been forced to absorb these shortfalls, creating a dire situation in which the government’s attempt to save people from the financial brink has instead pushed some municipal coffers to their own breaking point. The losses come as municipalities are seeing significant cash shortfalls in these utilities while also losing hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue from sales, property, and occupancy taxes.
- Past due utilities for North Carolinians total $218 million.
- Municipally owned utilities have projected shortfalls of $90 million through the end of 2020.
- Without assistance, municipal-owned utility shortfalls could reach $176 million by the end of the fiscal year.
Time is of the essence to keep people safe and healthy in their homes. One of the most important steps the legislature can take is to allocate funds from Congress’ Covid-19 relief legislation (CARES Act).
House Bill 1200 would direct federal relief funds towards assistance for both homeowners and renters. Funds would be allocated to the NC Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) to distribute grants to individuals needing emergency funds to make mortgage, rent, and/or utility payments. NCHFA would work with HUD-certified housing counseling agencies and approved agencies to conduct intake, determine eligibility, and coordinate payments on behalf of individuals.
House Bill 1200 would directly assist thousands of homeowners and renters. This assistance will be a benefit to the state. As students return to school (many virtually) stable housing will help keep them from falling behind. In addition, stable housing is a critical component for workforce development.
When the legislature returns to session in September, it is expected that they will have only a few days to pass this important bill. That is why the North Carolina Homeowners Alliance has made it easy for you to contact your legislator today.