Cumberland County received $65 million in federal pandemic assistance, and officials plan to spend $16 million on initiatives that will help people afford housing.
These funds will be used to help cost-burdened families struggling to afford housing costs.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA, was passed by Congress and signed by the President. Joe Biden in March 2021. ARPA’s goal is to help municipalities, counties, states, and tribal governments recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan is part of Cumberland County COVID recovery plan 2022which the Board of Commissioners approved in June, and said the $16 million used for affordable housing falls under the adverse economic impacts requirement.
According to North Carolina Housing Coalitiona statewide nonprofit that advocates affordable housing, 36% of Cumberland County households spent a third or more of their income on housing costs such as mortgage, rent and utility payments starting in 2021.
A recent study conducted by the City of Fayetteville found that between 2010 and 2018, the number of renter households with incomes below the city’s median household income increased by 21%.
Want to understand what’s going on with federal pandemic relief funds in your community?
According US treasury boardsARPA recipients such as Cumberland County can use the assistance on public health, negative economic impacts due to the pandemic, certain infrastructure, and revenue replacement for local governments that have lost public funds due of COVID-19.
All funds received from ARPA must be allocated by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026.
How to check if you qualify for a mortgage or rental assistance
Of the $16 million earmarked for affordable housing initiatives, $2 million is expected to be used for a mortgage relief program for homeowners who cannot make their monthly payments due to the pandemic.
Eligibility will be limited to those living in a qualified census tractthat the US Department of Housing and Urban Development defines as a census tract where half of households earn 60% or less of the region’s median gross income.
To check if your territory is eligible, go to US HUD website and check the box that says “Color QCT Qualified Tracts (Zoom 7+)”. It will show the qualifying areas.
However, if an applicant household does not live in a qualifying census tract, they may also be eligible if they are considered low to moderate income i.e. 80% or below the median income of the area.
The aid also cannot be duplicated, which means that the household could not have received similar aid from another source.
Another $1.5 million is planned for rental assistance. The eligibility criteria will be the same as those for the mortgage assistance program.
Programs for First Time Home Buyers and Shaw Heights
The county also plans to launch a $2.5 million homeownership program. Assistance will be limited to a maximum of the total amount of assistance each person in the household received from the federal COVID-19 stimulus. Eligibility criteria will be similar to those for housing assistance programs.
The largest portion — $10 million — is earmarked for construction of an affordable housing development in the Shaw Heights neighborhood northwest of Fayetteville, which is in a qualifying census tract.
The development will be for low to middle income households. The number of units remains to be determined.
There are also plans to partner it with a $12 million sanitary sewer project for the Shaw Heights neighborhood.
“Failing septic systems have been a problem within this community and in order for the Shaw Heights affordable housing project to be its most successful, the installation and construction of new pipes, pump stations and forcemains for the system sewers are needed,” county officials wrote in their COVID. -19 recovery plan.
Information about the application still under development
Program details are being finalized, so applications are not yet available. Check carolinapublicpress.org for more information as it becomes available.