Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Housing Eviction Protection Extended Until March 31, 2021 and More Rental Assistance Funding To Come
UPDATE: The NC General Assembly just passed HB 196
The NC General passed HB 196/SB 172 on March 4, 2021. Read the full details on the legislation here: 2021 COVID-19 Response & Relief Bill (HB 196/SB 172).
The bill includes several provisions related to approving funding for the state’s broader COVID-19 response. The section that relates to housing impacts the administration of new rental assistance funding administered by the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR). Here are a few important details:
Allocation of funding per county, instead as a “balance of state” approach, allowing the larger localities with direct allocations to manage their own funds, so that NCORR can focus on distributing funds across rural and suburban areas.
Limitation of administrative costs to 5% of funds received
Reporting requirement confusion, which may lead to unused funding and returned funding to the federal government
The funding from the CARES Act that became the HOPE Program came with requirements that contributed to slowing down the disbursement of assistance payments. These problems were experienced across the country and the Congress responded by removing those barriers in the latest round of assistance enacted in December 2020. The Treasury Department concurred with those measures in their most recent FAQ document. The changes by the General Assembly place similar barriers back into the process, likely slowing the distribution of funds.
Renters across North Carolina are safe from eviction for nonpayment of rent through the end of March. Governor Cooper originally issued an eviction moratorium in October, which expired December 31, 2020. An interim Executive Order extended the deadline from December 31 to January 31, 2021 and Governor Cooper’s recent Executive Order 191 (issued on January 27, 2021), now extends the eviction moratorium through March 31, 2021. This action extends the eviction protection from the previous Executive Orders 171 and 188 and follows the directive and guidance from the CDC and President Biden.
With many people struggling financially due to this pandemic, this Order halts evictions for nonpayment of rent. In North Carolina, an estimated 485,000 adults in rental housing reported that they are unable to pay rent and are at risk of eviction and nearly three million adults reported difficulty in covering usual household expenses, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to the NC Coalition to End Homelessness, evictions declined by 8.2% in NC during 2020 and attributed this reduction to the eviction moratoriums.
“Too many families are living on the edge, trying to do the right thing, but left with impossible choices. This order will help them stay in their homes which is essential to slowing the spread of the virus,” Cooper said in a press release announcing the extension.
Before Cooper instituted an eviction moratorium, some cases and deaths could be attributed to eviction, according to a study earlier this year from public health experts at academic institutions across the country. Cooper’s extension comes as COVID-19 cases have surged in North Carolina over the past month.
The CDC Order and Cooper’s Executive Order stops evictions for nonpayment of rent as long as the tenant qualifies and gives his or her landlord a signed declaration form, attesting that they qualify. If an eviction action is filed, landlords are required to provide tenants with a blank copy of the CDC declaration form. The CDC declaration form may be found here. Tenants must fill out this attestation form, and meet all of the program’s requirements, in order to activate this protection. More details on the moratorium program are available from the CDC’s guidance here. If they are unable to pay rent, tenants must sign the form and should keep a signed copy for their personal records, as well as deliver the original to the landlord as soon as possible.
In addition, on February 4, both the Governor and the NC General Assembly recommended deploying $546 million of the state’s relief funding for emergency rental assistance. These funds would be allocated from the omnibus federal COVID-19 relief package dated December, 2020. The Governor’s proposal does not specifically state what agency should administer the program, however, he lauded the HOPE Program for its work thus far to distribute rental and utility assistance.
The Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) program, stopped accepting applications November 11, 2020 when the program’s $117 million funding was fully committed. HOPE is a statewide initiative that provides rent and utility assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income renters experiencing financial hardship due to the economic effects of COVID-19, and helps prevent evictions and utility disconnections to promote housing stability. HOPE is an initiative of the N.C. Office of Recovery and Resiliency, a division of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
Interested in housing policy and want to make a difference? How can you get involved? NC Community Action Association is chartering a Housing Think Tank initiative to consider these issues and propose multi-faceted solutions: addressing systems, infrastructure and policy. Is this an area of expertise for you? Would you like to be a part of this developing conversation? Initial meetings will be held in March, 2021 and will be held 100% virtually, making attendance from anywhere in the state feasible. For additional information, contact Elle Evans Peterson.
To impact the determinants of health and health inequalities, community action agencies work at the local, state and national levels, to create positive, long-term change in the social, built and natural environments of our clients and our communities. Stay tuned to this space and our monthly updates for more information and progress of NCCAA’s new SDOH grant initiative. We will be sharing success stories from NCCAA’s Social Determinants of Health programming from around the state and opportunities to collaborate in the weeks and months to come. For more details, contact Elle Evans Peterson, Community Impact Manager, at the NCCAA state offices: email@example.com