(by Peter Kelly)
Equitable Communities CLT was invited to speak at the public meeting of the City Council Housing Community Task Force. We wanted to share a summary of what we presented.
While the intermediate impact of the COVID 19 pandemic is unclear, it is a safe assumption that the Demand for Affordable Housing will increase significantly after the eviction moratorium and the supplemental unemployment insurance payments end in the next few months.
We wanted to make sure that the Task Force was focused on the size of the “Pre-COVID” housing shortage. As we have discussed previously, we emphasized the need for ongoing public reporting of metrics to communicate the size of the Affordable Housing Crisis. We strongly believe that without measurements of the size of the problem then we will not be able to measure the impact of any actions by the City Council to mitigate the problem. We do know that the # of New Apartments funded is not an adequate metric for measuring progress.
We suggested an example of a metrics for both the Demand and Supply for Affordable Housing.
DEMAND Example: The metric illustrates that we had over 50,000 families that were ‘housing insecure’ (at risk of homelessness). As the graph shows, the demand is primarily at 50% AMI and below. We also understand that this population is most affected by the job losses and income reductions caused by the COVID crisis and very unlikely to have the family savings to replace the lost income. The metric is based upon the # of Households in Mecklenburg County that are paying ABOVE 40% of their INCOME for Rent at various AMI Levels from the Census Bureau ACS survey.
SUPPLY Example: The metric shows the average annual change in the number of Apartments in Mecklenburg County that are available at various price points compared with the # of “NEW BUILD” projects funded in 2019. The data suggest that we are losing about 2,000 NOAH apartments per year. As the city funds new developments, the average time from funding to availability of the units is over 24 months. Therefore, during the time of actual development we are losing approximately 4,000 apartments while funding < 1,000 apartments available at 60% AMI. This metric demonstrates that while the # of Apartments is growing annually, the # of Affordable Apartments is decreasing much more rapidly that City Funded projects can replace them.
We then focused on improvements to the current Housing Trust Fund (HTF) spending process. We made the following recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the City Council spending of the HTF.
OUR RECOMMENDED IMPROVEMENTS:
* Enhance the partnership with LISC/CHOIF Funders to establish a NOAH Acquisition Fund. This would enable the community to proactively seek more NOAH rehabilitation projects. The Acquisition Fund would enable the partnership to respond in a market timely fashion as opportunities were discovered.
* Increase the focus of HTF spending to NOAH apartments 
Focus on smaller complexes <50 Units 
Create a list of existing NOAH apartments and actively solicit the owners for opportunities
* Purchase land along the planned Gold & Silver Transportation Routes
* Increase non-HTF financial incentives for affordable housing (Both City & County)
Tax Investment Grants (TIG) – lowering property taxes during affordability period
Waivers or Fee reductions for development related fees
* Develop and publish a variety of metrics that measure community impact
* Fully leverage available Federal COVID funding of $24.8 million
‘Other Housing’ $20 million
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) $3.5 million
Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) $1.8 million
 NOAH – Naturally Occurring Affordable Housing – apartments that are older and affordably priced.  NOAH apartment rehabilitation enables the whole complex to remain affordable.  Smaller NOAH apartment complexes are more likely locally owned  TIG’s are used to foster economic development projects – leveraging the approach for Affordable Housing