Thanks to our Affordable Housing Finance Training this past spring, Durham CAN leaders learned about the different tools available for creating affordable housing. One such tool, The Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), is the largest federally-funded affordable housing program; every year, North Carolina receives nearly $30 million dollars to fund the private construction of affordable housing residences. LIHTC are used to cover construction financing gaps that result from lower rent costs in projects like the newly-built Willard St. apartments in downtown. In order to receive Tax Credits, teams of developers, designers, and investors apply through a competitive application process. Applications are then scored across various categories, including site conditions, local housing needs, service to specific underserviced groups, design standards, and more. The scoring guidelines are outlined in the North Carolina Housing Authority's (NCHFA) Qualified Allocation Plan (QAP). Because the competition for Tax Credits is intense, Tax Credit developers design their housing projects to achieve maximum scoring under QAP scoring categories. Thus, the QAP has a major impact on which populations are served, the types of projects that are undertaken and, indirectly, where affordable housing is built.
To better center the needs of residents in the allocation of this extremely powerful affordable housing resource, Durham CAN gave public comment on the annual QAP draft. Our comments centered around ways to preserve the affordability of LIHTC developments, improve the rights of LIHTC residents, increase maintenance standards and regulations, and create practices that peruse racial equity and justice. It is our hope that by sharing our perspective as a community organization that is deeply rooted in relationships with residents, LIHTC developments will become an empowering platform for upward mobility that begin to reverse historic reproductions of systemic inequity in Durham and across NC. On August 31st, Durham CAN leaders will meet with Scott Farmer-- the executive director of NCHFA-- to discuss these goals and our public comment.