AANC UPDATE 2/26/2021
Executive Order 195
Gov. Roy Cooper announced Wednesday, Feb. 24th that he is signing an executive order that will “ease but not lift” restrictions related to COVID-19 across the state. Cooper said Executive Order 195 was decided on “Given the significant and sustained improvement in our COVID-19 metrics.” The new order goes into effect at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26.
This order lifts the Modified Stay at Home order, removes the statewide curfew, and increasing the size of indoor gatherings he mass gathering limit increases to 25 people indoors (and remains 50 people outdoors).
While Executive Order 195 will not drastically change the day-to-operations of our industry, it is a big boost for NC businesses and the economy. The will still include the statewide mask mandate and has two general categories of occupancy restrictions: 30 percent capacity and 50 percent capacity. Officials say that because indoor spaces have a higher risk for spread of COVID-19, those facilities in the 30 percent-occupancy category may not exceed 250 people per indoor room or indoor space.
The 30% Capacity Limit (which may not exceed 250-persons in indoor spaces) includes:
Indoor event venues with more than 5,000 seats may be excepted from the 250-person limit if they follow additional safety measures up to 15% capacity.
- Meeting, Reception, and Conference Spaces
- Lounges (including tobacco) and Night Clubs
- Indoor areas of Amusement Parks
- Movie Theatres
- Entertainment facilities (e.g., bingo parlors, gaming establishments)
- Sports Arenas and Fields*
The 50% Capacity Limit includes:
- Breweries, Wineries, Distilleries
- Fitness and Physical Activity Facilities (e.g., gyms, bowling alleys, rock climbing facilities)
- Museums and Aquariums
- Outdoor areas of Amusement Parks
- Salons, Personal Care, Tattoo Parlors
NC Hope Program Update
Over the past several weeks NC HOPE Program has made several changes to address growing criticism since the program launched last October. With $167M budget, the program opened in October and closed early November after receiving nearly 42,000 applications. While the applicant portal remains closed, NC Hope has taken major steps to automate their system, increase staff, and streamline the award process to increase.
An additional $546M in federal funds for rental assistance were allocated by the General Assembly to the HOPE program in the first COVID-19 relief package of the year. However growing concerns of efficiency has now positioned the NC Housing Finance Agency as a potential recipients of the federal funds.
In a collation letter to state officials AANC advocated that the funds remain with the NC HOPE Program. Citing that a transfer of agency could lead to added confusion and further delay the awards process at a time where relief is critical. Lawmakers will decide if the funds will be reallocated, the next relief measures are being discussed now, and slated to be voted on in March if not early April.
Treasury Latest Guidance on Rental Assistance Funds
The Emergency Rental Assistance program makes available $25 billion to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds are provided directly to States, U.S. Territories, local governments, and Indian tribes. Grantees use the funds to aid eligible households through existing or newly created rental assistance programs.
On February 22, 2021, Treasury revised its FAQs for Emergency Rental Assistance. The revised FAQs supersede the previous FAQs provided by the Trump Administration. The Treasury Department also plans to develop full program guidance to compliment the latest revisions soon.
The revised FAQs outline:
- Renter household eligibility, including guidance that at least one or more individuals meets the following criteria:
- Qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to COVID-19;
- Demonstrates a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
- Has a household income at or below 80 percent of the area median.
- Available assistance, noting that eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus potential for an additional three months; and
- Application process, detailing that eligible households OR rental housing providers can apply on behalf of eligible households.
- Direct Payment process, reduces the timeline of direct payment to tenants if landlords refuse to participate or cannot be reached. Once the grantee has made at least three attempts by phone, text, or e-mail over a 10 calendar-day period to request the landlord or utility provider’s participation; or a landlord confirms in writing that the landlord does not wish to participate.