Housing is a complex challenge across rural North Carolina that has profound economic development impacts. In Eastern North Carolina, both along the coast and inland, communities are more exposed to major hurricanes, floods, and tornados. Low-wealth individuals on the coast and numerous low-wealth communities inland are exceptionally vulnerable. In Western North Carolina, with a growing population that includes a large percentage of higher-wealth individuals, affordable housing is out of reach for many for middle class households. For rural North Carolina to prosper, we must double down on the commitment to address complex conditions such as substandard housing stock and too few developers; smaller and harder-to-fund projects; and inadequate state and federal funding. The COVID-19 pandemic has made housing needs more acute for middle-income and low-wealth households. North Carolinians put out- due to the economic impact of the pandemic lack the resources to pay rent, mortgages, and utilities; CARES Act resources have helped, however. As of February 17, the most recent relief package so far has allocated $135 million to rent, mortgage, and utility assistance, will support 34,000 North Carolinians.
Policy Recommendations: Advance Sustainable and Affordable Housing
- Sustain funding to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency for the Workforce Housing Loan Fund. This fund is critical to the financial feasibility of smaller scale applications for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.
- Increase funding to the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund from its current $7M to $15M.
- Prioritize use of non-entitlement federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding to meet the growing demand for quality, affordable rural housing.
- Build a broad coalition through critical advocates, such as the North Carolina Housing Coalition, the Metropolitan Mayors Coalition, and other partners, to create a systemic policy response to make high-quality housing for everyone an economic asset for every community.