In case you missed it over the weekend, be sure to check out an excellent op-ed that ran in the Charlotte Observer/News & Observer twins by a pair of surprising bedfellows.
In “A crisis is coming for NC tenants and landlords,” Rick Glazier the executive director of the North Carolina Justice Center (parent organization of NC Policy Watch and one of the state’s leading advocacy groups for low-income tenants) and Sherry Yarborough, President of the Apartment Association of North Carolina (perhaps the state’s largest and most important advocacy group for landlords) jointly make the case that North Carolina faces a dire rental housing crisis that simply must be addressed by state lawmakers.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that far too many North Carolina families are at risk of displacement as a result of an inability to pay rent, without any means of assistance. Unless Gov. Roy Cooper, the General Assembly and local governments act in a concerted and coordinated way, housing providers and the residential tenants who rely on them will face dire economic circumstances that could jeopardize the stability of the rental housing supply in North Carolina….
Eviction and summary ejectment hearings have been postponed since March 13. During this time, many housing providers have offered payment plan options, moved to electronic payments and waived late fees to accommodate the circumstances of this pandemic. Unfortunately, these efforts by one segment of the economy are not sustainable and cannot replace the type of aid that is required to mitigate the loss of income tenants have experienced.
Fortunately, there are possible solutions under consideration and in the legislative pipeline. In particular, Glazier and Yarborough tout House Bill 1200, a bill with the title “Foreclosure Prevention Grants/Rental & Utility Assistance” and the prospect that there are “funds available to the Governor and the agencies he oversees that should have been deployed by now.”
As they note in conclusion, this is not a crisis state leaders can afford to sidestep:
“Our state should be gravely concerned about rental housing providers’ ability to keep up with their financial responsibilities and the uncertainty that faces individuals and families who rent. Owners and operators rely on rental income to pay employee payroll, mortgage payments, taxes, insurance and, importantly, use these funds to maintain continuity of essential services for apartment communities and rental homes as many renters must shelter in place.
In addition to those pressing concerns, there is an ongoing housing affordability crisis — brought on by a housing supply shortage and crumbling infrastructure — that existed long before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. If lawmakers do not act, this crisis, paired with the current economic downfall, will only worsen. Residential rental owners and operators’ employees and residents need additional economic relief.”