How a Rare Bit of Bipartisanship Secured Millions for Affordable Housing in NC

Democratic Rep. Alma Adams, who represents Charlotte, above, and Republican Rep. David Rouzer, who represents Wilmington and other cities, helped expand North Carolina's ability to address the affordable housing crisis. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

By Michael McElroy

July 29, 2022

A bill introduced by Rep. Alma Adams, Democrat, and Rep. David Rouzer, prompted US officials to remove restrictions on federal economic relief aid. Hundreds of thousands in NC could benefit.

Bipartisan progress in North Carolina is not entirely dead.

Rep. Alma Adams, Democrat, and Rep. David Rouzer, Republican, announced on Friday that a bill they introduced in March had prompted the US Treasury Department to remove restrictions for how states can use federal COVID relief funds to pay for affordable housing. 

Nearly 200,000 low income households in North Carolina lack affordable rental homes, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. North Carolina had earmarked $205 million of the Covid funds to help address the national housing crisis. and with this particular red tape gone, the state has far more flexibility to spend it.

Previously, Treasury rules barred states and local governments from spending funds from the Affordable Care Act’s “State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund” (SLFRF) on Low Income Housing Tax Credit programs. The tax credits help secure long-term loans for affordable housing developments. (The old rules allowed for affordable housing grants, but not for these loans.)

The bipartisan bill introduced by Adams and Rouzer, among others, would have changed the rules through law, but Treasury officials removed the restrictions themselves. 

The Low Income Housing Tax Credits entice private developers to build affordable housing, or incorporate it into their larger developments, by off-setting the costs of accepting lower rents. 

“Too many families in Charlotte, North Carolina, and across the country are suffering due to the housing crisis,” Adams, who represents Mecklenburg County, said in a news release. “The $8 billion in already-appropriated funds that this decision unlocks [nationally] for affordable housing will be a lifeline for American families.”

Rouzer, who represents a wide swath of the state from Wilmington to Smithfield, agreed.

“Communities in Southeastern North Carolina, like many others around the country, are facing an affordable housing crisis,” he said in the news release.

“Rather than let unspent COVID-19 dollars languish in bureaucratic red-tape, I’m pleased the Treasury Department will implement common-sense provisions included in the bipartisan LIFELINE Act to allow cities, counties, and states to utilize funds that have already been allocated by Congress to support affordable housing developments across the country.

Both Rouzer and Adams praised each other for working across party lines.

“I want to thank our bipartisan co-leads for joining me,” Adams said. “This is a major win for our community, for increasing housing stock and lowering the cost of housing for thousands of Americans.”


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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