In the News September 9 – September 23 

Housing Equity: 

  1. City of Raleigh Receives 2022 Housing North Carolina Award for East College Park: The City of Raleigh began the East College Park project in 2017 to moderate residential values, increase homeownership opportunities, and encourage diversity within the historic East College Park neighborhood. 
  1. ‘It’s going to be worse’: Evictions increasing across North Carolina: Nearly 15,000 evictions were filed across North Carolina last month; almost double from last year. While evictions remain a problem in almost every community, NC Data Works reported that 75% of Durham County’s recent evictions occurred in communities of color. 
  1. Triangle sees increased housing inventory, but higher mortgage rates lead to rising rents: While there were nearly 2,300 more homes available for sale across the Triangle in July 2022 compared to July 2021, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage is more than twice as high as it was in September 2021 and Raleigh had the 41st highest average rent for a 1-bedroom in the country. 
  1. HUD announces funding to prevent homelessness among foster youth: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Tuesday awarded nearly $1 million to provide housing assistance to youth who are at risk of experiencing homelessness after aging out of foster care. The funding was given to 17 Public Housing Agencies across 11 states, including in California, Florida, Texas and North Carolina. 
  1. HUD to Announce $180 Million Choice Neighborhoods Implementation Grants: Durham, North Carolina will welcome HUD General Deputy Assistant Secretary Dominique Blom on Monday, September 26, to announce the $40 million that the Durham Housing Authority and City of Durham have been awarded. The core goals of the Choice Neighborhoods program include replacing distressed HUD-assisted housing with high-quality, mixed-income housing that responds to the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. 

Health Equity: 

  1. NCDHHS Hires First Chief Health Equity Officer and Launches New Office of Health Equity: Victor Armstrong was hired today as the Department’s first ever Chief Health Equity Officer. NCDHHS created the position as well as the Office of Health Equity to lead its focus to advance health equity and reduce disparities in opportunity and outcomes for historically marginalized populations. 
  1. The racial gap in infant death rates in NC widened, while the overall infant mortality rate plateaued: North Carolina has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation. The State’s infant mortality rate largely plateaued between 2010 and 2020, and the disparity ratio between Black and white infant death rate of 2.67 was wider in 2020 than it was in 1990. 
  1. Hundreds of UNC health professionals, med students and faculty push for compromise on Medicaid expansion: In a letter delivered Wednesday morning, the group asks Dr. Wesley Burks, CEO of UNC Health, to consider leaving the N.C. Healthcare Association if it will not soften its position on loosening Certificate of Need (CON) laws. The N.C. General Assembly’s GOP majority insist on changes to those laws before passing legislation to expand Medicaid. While the association has supported medicaid expansion for years, it has stopped short of negotiating on CON laws to achieve it. 
  1. HHS releases road map to address mental health pay parity, workforce shortage issues: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the road map Friday that laid out strategies for integrating mental health and substance abuse care into larger systems. A key pillar of the road map is to make it easier for people to get care, including making reforms to behavioral health financing arrangements in government programs such as Medicaid. 
  1. Wake expanding mental health services on school campuses: Mental health issues have been rising in North Carolina and the United States for more than a decade, including among the nation’s youngest people. The Wake County school system is now offering in-school mental health services at 40 schools, provided by 16 therapists, with plans to expand again soon. 

Economic Development: 

  1. Education Department Awards $177 Million in New Grants to Increase Competitive Integrated Employment for People with Disabilities:  The U.S. Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration announced new five-year grant awards for 14 state vocational rehabilitation agencies to support increasing access for people with disabilities to jobs that pay good wages. 
  1. 101 North Carolina Small Businesses Win Grants to Build Next-Generation Technologies: The One North Carolina Small Business Program awarded a total of $4.95 million to innovative companies in 22 counties across the state, the largest and most geographically diverse cohort of award winners in the program. 
  1. New WNC nonprofit looks to boost African-American homeownership, business, quality of life: Local African-American faith and community leaders gathered in downtown Asheville to announce the creation of the Eagles’ Wings Community Development Corporation. The nonprofit’s mission is to create generational wealth in the African-American community through financial literacy and community reinvestment. 
  1. Spectrum Awarded North Carolina GREAT Program Grant for Lee County: Nearly $4.4 Million Fiber-Optic Buildout Would Connect More Than 970 Homes and Small Businesses to Gigabit Broadband with Starting Speeds of 300 Mbps. 
  1. How best to spread economic wealth in North Carolina? Consider demographically targeted approaches: The primary economic development tools across all counties in North Carolina are incentives-driven, based on economic well-being rankings — average unemployment rate, median household income, percentage growth in population, adjusted property tax base per capita. However, there are no requirements for counties to develop plans to prepare for inclusive and equitable growth that generates shared prosperity 

Educational Equity: 

  1. More than $300 Million Awarded in Needs-Based School Construction Grants: Nine North Carolina school districts in economically distressed counties will share more than $300 million in new state lottery-funded grant awards for school construction, renovation projects, and other capital improvements. 
  1. Five NC Schools Earn National Blue Ribbon Recognition: The five schools are among 297 schools nationwide recognized this year for their overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps. 
  1. State accountability model faces equity concerns: A disproportionate number of North Carolina’s 864 low performing schools have higher populations of minority students and fewer economic resources. The current formula for low performing status prioritizes proficiency; critics argue it should prioritize growth. 
  1. Panel studying NC teacher pay revises plan and seeks to shed ‘merit pay’ label:  A panel charged with rethinking the way North Carolina’s teachers are licensed and paid has released a new proposal that incorporates pay for experience and credentials. 
  1. North Carolina to tax student loan forgiveness as income: The Biden administration announced on Aug. 24 it would be forgiving $10,000 of federal student loan debt and up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients. Forgiven debt will not be taxed as federal income, but in North Carolina forgiven student loans are still considered taxable income.