Everyone deserves a home, and we envision a Guilford County where local elected officials understand that housing is a human right. We envision a country where everyone has a home, and until we get there, we need elected leaders who honor their responsibility to keep as many of our people from falling through the cracks left by the federal and state government as possible. While the housing crisis cannot be solved entirely at the local level, we must prioritize it. We need stable housing because it touches so many areas of our lives: education, health, safety, and overall quality of life. This crisis existed prior to Covid-19, but since the pandemic, the truth of this crisis was made overwhelmingly clear. Because so many of our elected leaders in Guilford County (and across the state, and nationally) are realtors, landlords, and developers, we believe it is time to have real and perhaps difficult conversations around housing and what it means when people in power control who has access to housing, and who doesn’t.
WHAT OUR NEIGHBORS TOLD US
“Rent people can afford would help with the violence that’s going on. Some of these people want to rent their houses out- but people’s houses aren’t worth that much. Then when you get in there, they don’t want to fix the crap up. No, I ain’t doing it- I can’t do it. No you have to fix it before they move in. And when they’re building these new apartments people are charging $900, $1000, $1200, and ain’t nobody can afford that. People ain’t got jobs because of the corona. It’s a national disaster. The government needs to step in, and say “You own these homes- you’ve had these people in your house for 3-5 years, even if they’ve paid late or something- we’re not going to let these people evict you.” We’re the richest country in the world and we can’t take care of ourselves. We’ve got these congress people making all this money, for what? What the hell are they up there for. They aren’t helping people at McDonalds…cashiers at Food Lion, Bus Drivers, Truck Drivers, all these people make the country move.”
MORE HOUSING WE CAN AFFORD
- Our elected leaders should work to implement hundreds of units of Permanent Supportive Housing, a model that has been proven to significantly decrease homelessness, through buying existing multi-unit buildings (like hotels or apartment buildings), and invest in new buildings, where people who are consistently homeless and need social workers, mental health professionals, and other support are able to live permanently.
- We support elected leaders using public resources to invest in a variety of permanently affordable housing across the county that allows us to rent and own homes outside of the market through social housing. This housing should be environmentally sustainable, and building it should create living wage jobs.
- The City of Greensboro should use its Receivership Program to invest in repairing homes in disrepair for affordable housing, as is permitted by the City’s Charter, rather than being another opportunity for landlords to create more unaffordable housing and put profit, rather than people, first.
- Our city and county leaders must increase support for programs that assist low-income homebuyers with downpayments and navigating the bureaucracy of buying a home, which can help decrease the racial wealth gap in Guilford County.
- We support rent control. Elected officials in our state legislature must repeal the North Carolina legislature’s restriction on municipal efforts to implement rent control, and we local leaders should advocate for it.
KEEP US IN OUR HOMES
- Our local leaders must ensure that the city budget provides publicly funded eviction defense, as nationally – evictions decrease by 47% when people have representation in court.
- Our city leaders should fund a program to prevent eviction through mediation with multiple full-time attorneys through a grant or offices in county and city governments.
- Fines and fees collected from non-compliant landlords should be used to resource municipal funds for rental assistance, social housing, or other housing interventions.
- Funds from the State’s COVID-19 Relief housing program, HOPE, should be distributed through local organizations that have the capacity to release funds, or increase the State’s capacity to distribute the funds.
- Regularly allocate local funds outside of COVID-19 relief to prevent evictions with direct cash assistance. Guilford County was in an eviction crisis before the pandemic, with Greensboro listed as 7th in the nation for evictions.
- Properly staff agencies tasked with distributing financial assistance on behalf of our local goverments to ensure efficient funding and prevent bottlenecks.
- Prioritize people receiving assistance quickly, and do not create restrictions that 1) keep people who need the money from getting it, and 2) create unnecessary verification work for agencies distributing the funds.
- Look into new ways to protect tenants from eviction by researching the possibility of requiring a “right of first refusal”, or law requiring landlords to offer tenants the opportunity to renew their lease, for landlords/leasing companies that have incurred over a certain amount of fines in the past year.
MAKE IT EASIER TO GET INTO HOUSING THAT EXISTS
- Elected officials should support a second chance housing ordinance that would prevent landlords and employers from denying people housing due to a criminal record or prior evictions, enforced by increased staffing in local government.
- Elected officials should support a source of income anti-discrimination ordinance and ensure that the city and county hire staff to enforce Source of Income (SOI) protections, which legally prevent landlords from rejecting housing seekers with vouchers. People should be able to rent a home, regardless of how they are paying for it.
- Elected leaders should pass a local ordinance that protects people from housing discrimination for having a disability or mental illness, which be enforced by increased staffing in local governments.
TREAT US FAIRLY IN OUR HOMES
- Our local government should make sure homes are safe before landlords rent them out by bringing back Rental Unit Occupancy Certificates (RUCO), that require landlords to get their homes inspected before renting them out. The state legislature passed a law that made it illegal for cities and counties to enforce this, and we need elected officials who will reinstate it.
- The Housing and Urban Development Board should include more low-income and working class people, as well as residents of public housing. We must expand access to the HUD board by appointing community members and non-professional leaders. This should be more than one resident of public housing. With community control of HUD, expand the stock of housing.
- Elected leaders should fund hotel rooms and emergency housing to house the houseless and temporarily displaced due to natural disasters, housing code violations, or other emergencies.