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More bad news: HB2 could jeopardize federal housing funds for N.C., Durham

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, one of the overlooked consequences of House Bill 2, the hydra-headed, discriminatory legislation rammed through by Republican lawmakers last week, is federal funding for housing.

The New York Times reported yesterday that as a result of the legislation, North Carolina and its cities and towns could lose not only federal funding for K-12 public schools, but also transportation (a coffin nail for Durham-Orange light rail) and housing. In North Carolina and Durham, billions of housing dollars are at stake — money that helps the county’s most vulnerable citizens.

 

A quick refresher, if you’ve been traveling abroad or living without human contact or TV, radio, newspaper and Internet access for the past week: Besides discriminating against LGBT people in the workplace and the bathroom, HB2 also prohibits cities and towns from setting their own minimum wage and requires plaintiffs who sue their employers for discrimination (e.g. race, gender) to do so in federal, and not state court. (Federal court is more expensive and protracted, thus many people couldn’t even afford to pursue a lawsuit at that level.)

As a result, many companies and business conventions are leaving or boycotting North Carolina. For example, Braeburn Pharmaceuticals, which had planned to invest in a $20 million facility in Durham County, is now reconsidering its decision.

Federal agencies are reviewing their funding for North Carolina just as Durham is embarking on an ambitious affordable housing plan, which will require at least some federal dollars. Homeless services and the Community Development Department receive funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for many of their programs. And without HUD, it’s unlikely the Durham Housing Authority — the largest purveyor of affordable housing in the city — would exist.

The former Whitted School, which will include affordable senior housing, plus a preschool, was made possible by a $2.9 million FHA-backed mortgage, approved by HUD. The feds also gave Durham $108,000 last year for homeless veterans programs. Another $968,000 went to homeless programs in general, and Connect Home, a HUD initiative, would provide 2,000 low-income households in Durham with access to Google Fiber. These figures don’t include the millions in grants and other funding the Durham Housing Authority receives.

Now, let’s tally all of the classes of people this new law penalizes:

  • LGBT people
  • Friends, allies and families of LGBT people
  • People of color
  • Women
  • The poor
  • Children who attend public schools
  • Public school teachers and employees
  • The elderly
  • People who drive, take a bus, plane or train
  • Businesses that contract with the federal government for services (highway pavers, construction companies)
  • And city, county and state budgets — and the programs, capital improvements and other initiatives that money funds
  • In other words, everyone.

Comments

Will Wilson

They may be bigots, but they're not that dumb, are they? I bet they'll cave and repeal the pro-discrimination part of the bill but leave the minimum wage bit intact. Bet you a nickel.

root

I confess, I keep hearing how this law discriminates against 'everyone', and as a dumb person I accept the truth of what I am told, but could someone give me the benefit of the doubt and explain how people who make a public policy of their identity are not supporting discrimination, and how this law does so in poor taste? I apologize for asking someone to state the obvious for me. I have not read the law, nor did the article above describe how. Is this really because someone said you have to use the bathroom of the sex that is on your birth certificate? If so, what's wrong with that? Aren't people who think that's offensive in discriminating against my sexual organ? Does that prevent you from identifying as whatever sexuality you see fit? It just means you either have a vulva or a penis and society, for whatever reasons, has seen it as preferable to have a bathroom for each one. Why not argue to abolish sexually segregated bathrooms in the first place? What an enormous waste of attention.....

Matthew Paul

No one should have to state the law for you. You should take the time to read it yourself. Talk about a needy taker - you seem to sit there and wait for someone to enlighten you while you probably eat a family size bag of chips and play PS4 all day. Stop being lazy and read the law. Potty Police is just the tip of the iceberg.

Joshua Allen

@root, the reason the bathroom part of HB2 is offensive is because transgender or gender non-conforming people identify internally with the sex opposite of their birth genatalia. Not all of these folks can afford to have sex reassignment surgery and in fact not all of them even want the surgery. However they should be able to present to society as they identify and should be accommodated accordingly. It's not up to you or I to determine their gender for them. This is all very scientifically sound as well.

Additionally some folks are born with multiple genatalia and some people are born with ambiguous genatalia. For what it's worth also just because you are XY doesn't necessarily mean you will have a penis. Sex and gender are way more complicated than the binary nature most people assume.

HML

Try this link. It's fairly clear as to what the law does and exactly how long it will take the courts to overturn it.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2016/03/24/north_carolina_s_anti_lgbtq_law_is_unconstitutional.html

HML

There's also this one:

https://verdict.justia.com/2016/03/31/17051

Damian Smith

http://recode.net/2016/04/01/google-ventures-north-carolina-hb2-ban/

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/under-the-dome/article69462312.html

They'll never repeal the living wage ban, unless the we have a change in the leadership in Raleigh, but I won't hold my breath.

Dick Ford

I'm used to unsupported fear-mongering articles in the NYT and left wing press; there were plenty of them about Amendment One.

I had high expectation for BCR to engage in discussion, not rhetoric. Was I mistaken?

Odd to see the left cow-towing to business interests:-)

Also, can someone help me understand how the Charlotte ordinance dealt with privacy issues wrt to bathrooms and locker-rooms.

It seems to me the issue here is all about privacy, yet it is little discussed.

Kevin Davis

Dick, it is possible to be on the left side of the political divide and to be pro-business. I am a firm liberal, a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter, a proponent of the benefits globalization and free trade bring to peace and prosperity globally.

And I believe HB2 is poor public policy that is hurting LGBT North Carolinians and is damaging the economy in our state.

This bill reeks of a desperate attempt to reinvigorate social conservatives in NC -- in a year when outsiders like Trump are turning their backs on traditional Republican directions -- while taking away local anti-discrimination rights for cities.

And the exclusion of sexual orientation, in any form, in this much-ballyhooed state anti-discrimination bill?

Dick, you are far too smart (even if you are a Yalie) to not see through the charades around this. Too bad this is costing us all deeply.

Dick Ford

Kevin

Still looking for thoughts on the privacy issues raised by the Charlotte ordinance. Take a look at Tom Campbell's take at http://www.ncspin.com/discrimination-privacy-and-government-intrusion/

Rick

There is almost NO chance HB 2 gets repealed outright by the General Assembly this year. It wasn't designed to be a law for the common good, it was designed to increase voter turnout. Social issues are one thing that unite the majority of the conservative voting base. Add to it that trans folks make up such a small part of the population that not many people have any experience one way or the other with them, you can see how easy it was to degrade them and make it into an issue of "women's safety". They were basically writing the script for God's Not Dead Part 3 when they passed it because they had to know it would lead to a court challenge. They knew our Attorney General, part of the unrighteous in their eyes, would not defend them in court. They chose to go the Christian Martyr route anyways. Think Kim Davis or Amendment One. If they were to go back and repeal it, their voter base and interest groups like the NC Values Coalition will make them pay. Lawsuits are the best chance of getting rid of it. The pending case in Virginia might expedite the process of getting the law suspended but it will play out in court regardless.

With that in mind, it would be absurd and disastrous if the federal government withheld money. The martyr complex minded conservatives won't care and the people who need federal resources the most will be hurt. It has a huge chance to backfire and piss people impacted by it off too. Those pissed off people will point the finger at the feds before they go after the local idiots. Until the LGBTQ community gets much deserved federal level protection from discrimination this type of law could hypothetically be passed anywhere. New York, Connecticut, and every other state passing resolutions against travel here are just one red wave away from having legislative and executive branches willing to do it. Democrats controlled this state for the majority of the past few decades and look where we are now. NC might be the pioneers in the particular type of bigotry we pursued in the law but we aren't the first state to pass an anti-lgbt law since Obergefell v. Hodges and chances are we won't be the last. Other states have already expressed interest in emulating what we did! The Obama administration is not going to be able to stop these things from happening through executive actions. New federal laws are needed and only Congress can provide those. Fat chance of that happening this year either. The Democrats could have passed civil rights legislation before 2010 but decided not to because it was seen as bad politics at the time for them.

I hope the Obama administration will let this all play out in court. They can let the lingering threat remind our General Assembly what could happen without pulling the trigger. On a similar note, I hope businesses who condemned the law but call NC home will aid in the legal battle as well. That could come from donations or it could come from written statements submitted to the court. The sad fact is no matter what any hashtag says we currently are 'this' and the people who disagree need to fight for what's right instead of pulling away.

John

Question for the lawyers on this blog: Aren't we logically equating the absence of class-specific protection to discrimination?

Vegetarians, fat people, drug users, ex-cons, the tattooed, the unemployed, those who identify with unpopular political parties, alcoholics: these are all classes as well. All unprotected.

Thus, Tarheels are a bunch of bigoted anti-vegetarians because the specific class is not identified in our laws?

Kevin Davis

I'm not sure how Tom Campbell saying he is uncomfortable standing next to someone at a urinal -- something he seems to say he has issues with even under the status quo -- has anything to do with the matter at hand.

If someone is uncomfortable with a transgendered person using a restroom that "conforms" with their biological sex, I am sure they are going to be equally if not more uncomfortable with the same individual using a bathroom that appears to not match their identified sex. I fail to see what privacy has to do with any of this.

Campbell also talks about one person's rights ending where another's begins. I don't see where I have a right to care about what somebody else is doing in a bathroom, as long as they aren't creating a public hazard or committing a crime.

The bottom line is if you go out in public, you accept that you're going to use a restroom, and just need to do your business, accept that we're all human beings doing our thing, don't think too much about it and move on. Problem solved. I really, really don't get the conundrum on this whole thing.

And: if the GA wanted to address Just This One Issue, they could have included sexual orientation in the statewide set of rights and/or allowed cities to do so. Dick, I know you disagree with my statement that this is an electoral-year pot-stirrer, and I apologize for the "smart enough" comment, but I can't fathom how those other GA steps don't make it exactly that.

Jeff Bakalchuck

I would like to see the folks that are claiming(including the New York Times) that HB2 could lead to a cut-off in federal funding post the text from any federal regulations that HB2 violates.

Surely Uncle Sam would be required to prove that a federal regulation was violated before they cut-off funding. Therefore, if you think funding might be cut-off then you think a regulation is being violated and you should be able to cite the regulation you think is being violated.

Otherwise it's like saying someone may have committed a crime but i don't know any laws they might have broken.

If said regulations can't be cited then the argument is quite weak.

Now the argument that HB2 might lead to lost business for NC is very solid. One only has to look at statements made by a number of businesses and government entities.

Rick

Jeff, see the following:
http://www.wral.com/fact-check-does-hb2-threaten-federal-education-funding/15611222/
https://www.aclu.org/cases/gg-v-gloucester-county-school-board

Basically the argument invokes broad interpretations of the laws that don't have specific language one way or the other as well as the 14th amendment. I don't know if it will hold up in court or not in the inevitable feds vs state battle that would ensue but I wouldn't like to find out. Even a delay in receiving the funds would be terrible.

HML

Don't know about the federal funding cutoff, but private companies are certainly able to cut off funding.
https://www.paypal.com/stories/us/paypal-withdraws-plan-for-charlotte-expansion

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