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
- 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.