The Community and Economic Development program at the School of Government provides public officials with training, research, and assistance that support local efforts to create jobs and wealth, expand the tax base, and maintain vibrant communities. We deploy the resources of the University to support the development goals of communities in North Carolina.

Celebrate the Big and the Small

In courses like the School’s Community Development Academy, community development professionals are taught to celebrate small victories. Perhaps the victory involves a strong volunteer turnout for a neighborhood cleanup day; or perhaps an owner agreed to remove an unsightly vehicle from view of the neighbors; or perhaps a group of stakeholders agreed to meet and find common ground on development goals for the community. As it turns out, research shows that celebrating small wins is important.

When working with teams and groups, either internal to your organization or cross-functional teams it can be hard to sustain momentum and excitement for the project and goal- made more challenging when goals are long-term.  By celebrating small wins, teams become more likely to Read More…

American Rescue Plan: Local Government Funding for Affordable Housing Development

The federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) established Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (“FRF”), which will be distributed to state and local governments for the purpose of responding “to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19) or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality” (Part 8, Subtitle M of ARP). The amounts to be distributed are substantial. The U.S. Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) lists the county-by-county distributions here and the allocations for “entitlement” cities here.

The Interim Final Rule, promulgated by Treasury and codified at Part 35 of Subtitle A of Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations, recognizes “a broad range of eligible uses” for FRF, and offers local governments “flexibility to determine how best to use payments.” Although the rule is still “interim” and therefore leaves some details to be finalized, public officials are beginning to plan how they will utilize the infusion of funding. This post is designed to inform those initial planning discussions at the local level, and it will be updated when/if the “interim final rule” is revised.

There are many possible uses of FRF, ranging from premium pay for essential workers, to water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. One particular category of potential FRF-eligible activities has generated a good deal of interest and questions from public officials: 31 C.F.R. 35.6(b)(12)(ii)(B) authorizes FRF to be used for “[d]evelopment of affordable housing to increase supply of affordable and high-quality living units.” Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: May 2021

The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates.



Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

NC Department of Commerce launches “NC Main to Main Trail” to encourage tourists to visit the state’s beautiful Main Streets by region

Other CED items:

Working paper examines Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac progress under their “Duty to Serve” program, which requires them to expand access to affordable housing finance for low- and moderate-income households.

Urban Institute analysis suggests that homeownership is more affordable than rental over the long term for low income persons

DFI Online

UNC DFI provides an update to Orangeburg, SC City Council on community feedback related to the redevelopment of the historic Railroad Corner Read More…

Growing Together: Utilizing Live-Work to Enhance Our Communities

Prior to suburban flight, living in urban centers was commonplace, and business owners often lived in their commercial properties. Commonly referred to as live-work units, architect Thomas Dolan defines live-work as “a building, unit, or compound in which residential and work activities are pursued on that same property by most, if not all of the same people.” Over the course of the 21st century, interest in urban living has renewed, and technology has enhanced the level of work flexibility and telecommuting. While the number of people working from home at least occasionally has been growing, recent impacts by the COVID-19 pandemic are accelerating the telecommuting trend. Many people are increasingly working from home to conduct work on behalf of companies while others are employing the live-work model to manage their own businesses across a variety of services including software development, art, and hospitality. Read More…

Creating a Public Mural Program – Lessons from Kinston, NC (Part 1)

In the Fall of 2019, the City of Kinston established the Downtown Kinston Mural Program, a public art initiative that uses creative placemaking to build Kinston’s reputation as a destination for unique, thought-provoking art and community-oriented artists. This three-part blog post series outlines Kinston’s experience and important takeaways for future municipalities interested in starting their own mural programs, covering topics such as citizen involvement, artist recruitment and selection, mural installation logistics, public engagement during a pandemic, unexpected costs, and more.

Funding & Leadership

"One Voice" panel from the "Adkin High School Walkout" mural series. Panel created by Maximillian Mozingo.

The City of Kinston’s primary source of funding was a $100,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), but public art can be funded through other grants (Baltimore, MD), private donations (Sanford, NC), or annual budget allocations (Asheville, NC). However, programs should plan for at least $15,000 per mural and, depending on the maintenance agreement plan, $3,000 worth of maintenance costs per mural over a 10-year period.

Kinston’s Mural Program was led by Planning Director Adam Short and Community Development Planner/Lead for North Carolina Fellow Sarah Arney, Marcia Perritt with the Development Finance Initiative (DFI), and a citizen Selection Committee. The program required at least two staff each working 10 hours a week working on grant management, program design, Committee facilitation, Council updates, research, logistics, community engagement, and budget management. Catherine Hart, an artist consultant who runs the Jersey City Mural Arts Youth Program, was an enormous asset during the program design process; her experience on both sides of art programs helped the City anticipate common needs and concerns from artists. The local Kinston Community Council for the Arts also advised. Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: April 2021

The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates.




Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

Carolina Demography offers initial thoughts on what the 2020 Census means for North Carolina.

Apple to make transformational investment in Research Triangle, NC; record incentives:

Landscape Architecture Magazine features Morganton’s Broughton Hospital Campus and DFI

Measuring NC’s affordable housing crisis Read More…

Revisiting the Case for Affordable Housing Four Years Later: Reminder of Value of BLS Salary Data When Understanding Affordable Housing

In 2017, a CED blog post asked if wages in different parts of the state were sufficient to sustain a person who wants to live and work there. For example, in 2016, nursing assistants in Goldsboro earned $11.83 an hour (median wage) for a mean annual salary of $24,610. Things have improved in terms of wages, even accounting for modest inflation. As of May 2020, the median wage was $14.83 with a mean annual salary of $30,850, a 25% increase in nominal terms. This would be excellent news, as long as other expenses didn’t grow faster – like housing.


The challenge of providing affordable housing is front and center

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How should we measure North Carolina’s affordable housing crisis?

How much should North Carolina families pay for housing? Affordable housing experts generally agree that housing costs should not exceed 30% of a household’s annual income. This payment standard is applied to nearly every major housing program, including public housing, housing choice vouchers, and properties financed through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit. In each of these programs, rents are set based on the assumption that they should not exceed 30% of a tenant’s annual income.

There are practical benefits to setting housing affordability at 30% of household income. The measurement is easy to calculate and communicate to tenants, developers, and other stakeholders in the affordable housing development process. But there are significant shortcomings as well. The threshold ignores household characteristics that make it more challenging to pay rent in addition to other non-housing expenses. Read More…

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Local Government Authority to Expend their Allocations

On March 11, 2021, the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) became law. There is still a lot to be deciphered in this $1.9 trillion stimulus package; the third such major relief act since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. We do know that the law includes substantial aid for state and local governments. With respect to local governments, some monies will be distributed directly to them (specifically, allocations to counties and municipalities with populations over 50,000). Other monies will be allocated to the State for distribution to qualifying local governments (all other municipalities). See Part 8, Subtitle M—Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds of H.R. 1319 American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. The monies will be distributed in tranches, with the first payment made within 60 days’ of the law’s enactment. The second tranche will be distributed a year after the first. The monies may be used for costs incurred by December 31, 2024.

Aside from their expected allocation amount, local government officials want to know the purposes for which the monies may be spent and whether or not the grant of funds from the federal government is sufficient to provide North Carolina local governments expenditure authority. This blog post addresses these two issues. As a caveat, this post is based on interpretations of the federal law and current state law. There may be different interpretations promulgated by the agencies charged with implementing the aid to local governments and there may be changes to state law to facilitate the receipt and expenditure of funds by local governments. This post was originally published on the Coates’ Canons Local Government Law Blog on April 5, 2021. I will update the original Coates’ Canons post (here) as more information becomes available, particularly guidance on reporting and accountability measures.

Note also that this post only deals with monies allocated directly to local governments by the ARP. The General Assembly may appropriate additional monies from the State’s ARP allocation to local governments, and to certain special districts and public authorities, and will set the expenditure parameters for those funds. And the ARP provides funding for many other programs, services, activities, and projects, that will directly aid a local government’s citizens, utility customers, community groups, businesses, nonprofits, and other government entities. (For a brief overview of key provisions of the ARP, see this National Conference of State Legislatures’ summary.) Local government officials will want to understand how all of this targeted relief will impact their communities as they make their own appropriation decisions.

Turning back to the purpose of this post, let’s look at local government authority to spend ARP allocations for the specified purposes. Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: March 2021

The following are articles and reports on the web that the Community and Economic Development Program at the UNC School of Government shared through social media over the past month. Follow us on twitter or facebook to receive regular updates.


Items of interest related to CED in North Carolina:

NC Main Street Award winners announced: Hendersonville’s mill revitalization project with UNC DFI among winners for best adaptive reuse

USA Today reporter looks at tensions created by development and growth in NC small towns Mebane and Leland.

Other CED items:

Unintended consequences of geographic tax breaks like opportunity zones: lobbyists sought to change long-standing census tract boundaries, which disrupts policy-making and data for research

Harvard housing report: Construction of smaller, affordable homes steadily increased over the past decade, but not yet at levels seen in prior decade.

Lincoln Institute: Renters really are paying more today. Share of renters paying over 30% of income on rent went from under 25% un 1960 to nearly 50% in 2016. The severely rent-burdened rose from 13% to 26% in the same period.

DFI Online

Orangeburg, SC residents provide input on the redevelopment vision for the historic Railroad Corner during virtual sessions organized by UNC DFI, preservation and student-oriented retail are two common themes.

Read More…