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Housing Credits Offer Something to Celebrate

Scott Farmer

In a year in which affordable housing challenges have worsened during the pandemic, it is gratifying to report that the Agency and its partners are poised to meet some of those challenges through the tried-and-true Housing Credit program. Tax credit awards and other financing provided by the Agency this year will provide more than $1.1 billion in affordable apartments and represent the first time in our history that the total investment in tax credit apartment development exceeds $1 billion in a year.

One billion dollars is more than just a really big number. More important, this investment translates into 6,776 affordable apartment homes, support for more than 19,200 jobs and $56.6 million in state and local tax revenue. Not only will these apartments help address a critical shortage in the state for low-income families and seniors, the jobs and revenue supported by this tax credit development come at a time of increasing economic hardship for the state.

The Housing Credit program has a proven record of success in North Carolina in both rural and urban communities. The 109,000 apartments it has financed have a property value of $10.1 billion, have supported 179,000 jobs and generated more than $1 billion in tax revenue. Without the Housing Credit, none of these apartment communities would be economically feasible, and hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians would have been without safe and affordable housing during the past three plus decades. Numerous studies have shown that without affordable options, families are forced to rent unsafe, overcrowded or otherwise substandard apartments. Not only does that have ramifications on health care access and outcomes for everyone, it can be particularly damaging for children whose health and ability to learn can be compromised by poor housing conditions. Growing up in Housing Credit development can have the opposite effect—a 2019 study found that each year spent in this housing as a child is associated with a 3.5% increase in the likelihood of attending college and a 3.2% increase in future earnings.

Communities benefit from Housing Credit developments because they have been shown to revitalize low- and moderate-income neighborhoods by lowering crime and boosting surrounding home value by an average of 6.5%. In North Carolina, Housing Credit developments have expanded options in high-priced urban areas for low- and moderate-income workers. The impact has been even more profound in rural communities across the state where tax credit developments have sometimes been the only new residential—or even commercial—development in years. The Housing Credit’s role as an economic driver cannot be understated, and small towns like Ayden, Hildebrand and Shelby have been its most recent beneficiaries.

The shutdowns and social distancing requirements brought on by the pandemic resulted in shifting deadlines and extra challenges for our Agency and partners applying for Housing Credits. I’m proud of the efforts of all involved in this most unusual year that have produced the most significant investment in tax credit apartment development yet.   We are especially grateful to our partners and the many local governments who have supported this year’s awards and have made affordable housing a priority in their communities. If we have learned anything during this pandemic, a safe place to call home is essential. You can’t stay at home if you don’t have one.

As we look toward recovery from the many challenges of this pandemic, new affordable housing will be needed more than ever. We look forward to working with this year’s Housing Credit recipients to make these apartment homes a reality for North Carolina’s families and seniors.