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.

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 unc.live/38uj1op

USA Today reporter looks at tensions created by development and growth in NC small towns Mebane and Leland. https://bit.ly/30eaIs8

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 http://bloom.bg/37RyUVA http://bit.ly/3r6zhTT

Harvard housing report: Construction of smaller, affordable homes steadily increased over the past decade, but not yet at levels seen in prior decade. http://bit.ly/3r6zhTT

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. https://bit.ly/2N4HE3C

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. https://bit.ly/3wiv9D0

Read More…

TDAs Eligible for PPPs

Translation: Tourism Development Authorities Now Authorized to Borrow Money Through the Federal Paycheck Protection Program

A Tourism Development Authority (TDA) is a local government entity that is typically created by a county or municipality to administer and expend local occupancy tax proceeds to promote tourism in the local government or region. There is no general law authority to create a TDA. Instead, that authority has been given to several counties and municipalities through local acts, almost always in conjunction with the authorization of a local occupancy tax. A TDA is a separate legal entity from the county or municipality that established it, although it may be reported as a component unit of the local government for financial reporting purposes. Although the general purpose of TDAs across the state is the same, the specific powers and authorities of individual TDAs vary and are prescribed by the respective local acts that authorize their creation.

As discussed in a previous post, TDAs may not borrow money, because that authority may not be conferred by the General Assembly by local act. The NC Constitution requires the General Assembly to authorize a local government entity to borrow money only through a general law enactment. (A general law is defined in Sect. 3 of Art. XIV of the NC Constitution.) The lack of borrowing authority presented a difficulty for TDAs looking to take advantage of a COVID-19 related federal stimulus program, known popularly as the Paycheck Protection Program or PPP. The General Assembly recently enacted a general law granting TDAs borrowing authority for the limited purpose of applying for PPP loans. See Section 2.19 of S.L. 2021-3, effective March 11, 2021. Read More…

Spillover Benefits of Park Proximity

Investing in green space and park creation has enormous benefits, from bolstering community wellness, to reversing historic disinvestment, and in raising surrounding property values. While care should be taken to avoid the park-driven gentrification that has accompanied many of the recent high-profile parks such as the Atlanta Beltline, investing in community assets that help raise the value of people’s homes and improve quality of life is an essential element of any community development strategy. Small, neighborhood-scale parks present an opportunity to make low-cost investments with significant impacts: research shows small parks have significant impacts on nearby property values and can avoid some of the dis-amenity effects of large traffic-generating parks. Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: February 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:

Charlotte Housing Impact Fund invests in NOAH with for-profit returns of 8% in a hot market where returns typically higher. Government subsidy for low income renters. After 20 year affordable housing restrictions expire, 60% of profits from sale go into more affordable housing. https://bit.ly/3kodJQ4

Other CED items:

Three years after federal Opportunity Zones are enacted to encourage investment in distressed areas, analysis by Novogradac shows very little investment in operating business with jobs. Most of the tax benefits are going to real estate investors. https://bit.ly/3bJ5OZv

DFI Online

UNC DFI advises Siler City on the best redevelopment option after evaluating three contaminated brownfield sites. https://bit.ly/3r2rgPU

Read More…

Survey Results on Planning and Development Regulations in NC

Are North Carolina cities and counties making more use of conditional zoning?

Are the approval rates for variances and special use permits going up or down in North Carolina?

Are form-based codes and standards only something we read about, or are they actually being implemented in our state?

Are cities abandoning use of extraterritorial planning and development regulation?

These are great questions. Many of us who work in this field think we know the answers. But reality sometimes shows our assumptions and perceptions are less than entirely accurate.

To learn what is really happening on the ground, the School of Government periodically surveys all North Carolina cities and counties about their planning and development regulation practices. We conducted our sixth such survey in 2017-18. Prior surveys were conducted in 2002-03, 2004-05, 2006-07, 2008-09, and 2011-12. After a few delays occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and the enactment of Chapter 160D, we now have a report on the survey results. The full survey report is online here. A few of the answers to the questions above are a bit surprising.

Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: January 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 Supreme Court affirms the General Assembly, not the Governor, controls the allocation of federal block grants received by the State (like CDBG, CARES Act). bit.ly/3h4N7Sl

Wall Street Journal reports on small business success in winning payouts from insurers for Covid-related losses, citing NC cases. bit.ly/2WBlerV

Other CED items:

Novogradac summary of Covid-19 relieft package https://bit.ly/2M7ZRwM

DFI Online

Renovation of historic Blue Bell Mill in Lenoir; public-private partnership study by UNC DFI modeled a financially feasible project bit.ly/3oZb3d8

Read More…

What @sog_ced is reading online: December 2020

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 released new county development tier rankings for 2021; 22 counties will change rankings. https://bit.ly/2KzJmbF

Other CED items:

Freddie Mac releases white paper on Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties in rural persistent poverty counties, where the majority of rental housing is single-family. https://bit.ly/3mwzI6X

DFI Online

Morrisville, NC, with DFI’s assistance, is seeking a development partner to realize its Town Center vision. https://bit.ly/3aoTMW8

Read More…