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May 19, 2024 4:15 pm

by Greg Childress, NC Newsline
April 30, 2024

A bill to create a North Carolina Department of Housing and Community Development was filed in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday by Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams, a Democrat from Cabarrus County.

Under House Bill 925, the new department would be a cabinet-level organization with a division of operations, a division of community development, a division of housing and a policy and legislation office. Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams

The department’s mission, as stated in the bill, would be to “partner with communities to develop the economic potential of communities and residents; provide training and certification for building officials, and to invest in housing and community development projects in this state to assist low- to moderate-income residents.”

It would be led by the secretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development. A nine-member Board of Housing and Community Development would be established to “advise the secretary and to assist in the mission of the Department.”

The governor would appoint five of the board’s nine members, two would be appointed by the Senate leader and two by the House speaker. Members would serve two-year terms.

The proposal comes at a time of acute need for affordable housing. As Newsline reported earlier this month, a recent North Carolina Housing Coalition report found that 48% of North Carolina renters — 604,365 households — have difficulty affording their rents.

A recent report from the National Low Income Housing CoalitionThe Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes — found that there are 326,751 extremely low-income households in North Carolina but only 130,930 affordable rental homes available to them.

Black, Latino, and Indigenous households are disproportionately extremely low-income renters and disproportionately affected by the housing shortage.

The bill asks the General Assembly for $30 million in recurring funds starting with the 2024-25 fiscal year. NC Newsline could not immediately reach Staton-Williams for comment.

Here’s a breakdown of each division’s responsibilities as outlined in the bill:

The Division of Operations would provide operations and fiscal services for the department.The Division of Community Development would develops and implements plans for community revitalization and for expansion of broadband access.The Division of Housing would develops and implements plans for housing production and preservation, homeless and special needs housing, housing policy and natural disaster resilience.The Policy and Legislative Office would serve as the interagency liaison between the department and the General Assembly as well as other federal, state and local entities.

Democratic senators Sydney Batch, Michael Garrett, and Paul Lowe introduced a nearly identical bill, Senate Bill 568 in 2023, but Republican leaders never referred it to a substantive committee for review.

NC Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Rob Schofield for questions: info@ncnewsline.com. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.