Letter: Housing Trust Fund boost would help WNC, state

Graphic by Lori Deaton

North Carolina is a growing state. We consistently rank among the top of the states in the nation in terms of people moving here. And it is not hard to see why. Our state is beautiful, with great schools and universities. We have new companies making announcements seemingly every day about expansions into North Carolina. You may have moved here from another state yourself or know someone who has. But with any growth, there comes growing pains, and we are no exception to that, particularly when it comes to housing.

North Carolina needs more houses and more affordable houses. Homeownership is a pillar of the American dream. You work hard, save money and purchase a home. That builds generational wealth and gives you a feeling of accomplishment. But it is too hard to afford a home for many people across our state. And our government needs to do much more than we already are to help make homeownership a reality for North Carolinians.

North Carolina created the N.C. Housing Trust Fund nearly 40 years ago. The program is administered by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency. The program helps fund all sorts of housing: homeownership, rental, supportive housing, rehabilitation and more. Unfortunately, the N.C. Housing Trust Fund has not received enough attention from lawmakers in recent years.

During the Great Recession, North Carolina, like most of the country, had to make difficult decisions about how to allocate a strained state budget. Certain programs like the Housing Trust Fund took a hit. Higher levels of funding were considered by bipartisan leaders in the years prior to the recession, but they failed to materialize, and once the housing market collapsed in 2008, so too, did the funding for the Housing Trust Fund.

In 2007, $22 million was allocated. That amount dropped during the recession and has never recovered. The current recurring appropriation for the Housing Trust Fund is $7.7 million. To help move us forward on this important issue, I filed House Bill 1025, legislation that would increase that recurring appropriation up to $10 million per year. It will take much more to radically improve housing affordability in North Carolina, but I am focused on how we can make incremental improvements that become law.

Western North Carolinians are seeing the impact of high housing costs every day. I see it with friends and family, just as I am sure you do. This is an opportunity for the state to leverage funds in a way that benefits entire communities, not just in urban areas, but across the state. By some estimates, our region will need some 20,000 affordable housing units just for low-income folks. Nearly half of households are already cost-burdened today with regard to housing. This issue strikes to the core of our region, and that is why I am focused on addressing it.

I know that housing affordability is a topic that transcends political parties, not to mention race, gender and religious beliefs. Housing costs are high for everyone, especially those of us who are trying to achieve that American dream of buying that first home. This investment will pay dividends for North Carolinians across the state, and the N.C. Housing Trust Fund is a shining example of how public policy can help our state.

Former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration called the N.C. Housing Trust Fund “one of the greatest returns on investment of any state money spent.” I believe there is still a bipartisan appetite to enact good public policy that benefits all North Carolinians, and this bill is a starting point for what can be much more.

— Rep. Caleb Rudow
N.C. House District 116


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

4 thoughts on “Letter: Housing Trust Fund boost would help WNC, state

  1. westworldemployee7

    We have affordable housing in HVL…it’s called a tent next to the Ecusta Trail. There are now 2BR/1BA apts renting for $2,300 on my street. Right next to public housing.

    This town probably spends more money on the Main St. planters than on the poor. New houses start at $600K and Ingles is the largest employer.

    Does not compute!

    • Hiram

      Yeah, Ingle’s could surely create some housing atop stores for their own low-wage employees.

  2. gapple

    What do you consider affordable housing? What is incentive to build? High interest rates, high material costs, high labor costs, Guvment regulations and initiatives.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.