As we near the end of a year that saw many industries slowed to a halt by the pandemic, we are fortunate that the work that we do to create affordable housing opportunities was able to continue. Even as the ground around us shifted, our foundation held. How we did the work wasn’t always “business as usual,” but the creativity and flexibility employed to get the job done ensured that our delivery of results remained consistent with previous years.
Tax credit apartment construction continued this year, albeit proceeding more slowly as companies and contractors implemented COVID safety procedures and coped with rising costs for materials. While tax credit application deadlines were adjusted as the pandemic took hold, the 2020 awards were made in August as always, ensuring that future housing would be built in a timely manner. We also made certain that current housing continued meeting federal and state requirements by conducting compliance and monitoring remotely.
Payments for TCLV and Key Rent Assistance were made without delay, as well as our ongoing administration of HUD rent assistance contracts, avoiding threats to their housing and businesses. The Agency also provided support to the NC Office of Recovery and Resiliency this fall on the NC Housing Opportunities and Prevention of Evictions (HOPE) program, and to NC DHHS on the Back@Home program, both of which are aimed at preventing homelessness during this pandemic.
Investments in supportive housing and home repair and rehabilitation were made without interruption, allowing work to begin as soon as possible on housing construction and improvements for our state’s most vulnerable citizens. We also worked to preserve housing by creating a funding option for rehabilitation of older supportive housing.
Our home buying programs remained active despite challenges brought on by pandemic and are on track to receive more than $750 million in loan reservations by year end. We worked closely with community home ownership partners, providing support as they moved to remote operations, and adopted new economic strategies to counter COVID-related slowdowns. This included a successful pilot of a new approach in our Self-Help Loan Pool that allowed us to reach into two counties that had previously been unserved. Many counseling agency partners delivered home buyer counseling and curriculum virtually for the first-time time, which resulted in higher home buyer participation than in previous years.
While 2020 postponed many of our in-person events, we kept the celebrations going virtually, honoring our Housing North Carolina Award winners with a special online show and participating in virtual property groundbreakings and openings with our partners.
I’m grateful for the ability to keep the work of affordable housing going and for the lessons learned as we replaced our in-person interactions with virtual collaborations. While 2020 will undoubtedly leave us with increased need for affordable housing options, its long-term legacy will be one of innovation and flexibility in meeting that need.