Archives for August 2020

North Carolina Housing Credit Awards Announced; $1.1 Billion in New Investment in Affordable Housing


More than $1 billion in new economic investment is coming soon to build and preserve affordable housing in North Carolina, according to Chris Austin, Director of Rental Investment for the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

Housing credits were awarded by the NCHFA to rental housing developers who submitted over 100 applications in a competition for low income housing tax credit allocations in 2020.  The awards announced last Friday, August 14, included 42 projects in 31 counties, supporting equity and debt financing for new construction or rehabilitation of 2,730 apartment units.  Awards also were made to 17 tax-exempt bond projects totaling 1,648 units.

Mr. Austin noted that awards made in January, June and last Friday by the agency “have made this a record-setting year for the number of awards (75), units produced (6,776), and the total development costs of the awards ($1.1 billion).”

This year’s awards include housing credits for developments for both new construction and rehabilitation of existing units.  The Ellinger Carr firm is honored to be part of the teams that will be working to provide more than 1,300 new and rehabilitated affordable housing units in 14 cities and towns in North Carolina.

Since 1973, the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has financed nearly 300,000 homes and apartments, totaling $25 billion, with housing credit awards and agency loan financing.  The NCHFA is a self-supporting public agency.

The Ellinger Carr law firm advocates for affordable housing and supports clients in their development and rehabilitation of affordable housing in our State and elsewhere in the country.  The firm also expects to advise and participate in financing transactions as part of our ongoing relationship with the City of Raleigh and its Housing & Neighborhoods department with loans in support of affordable housing developments in Raleigh, including not only multifamily housing and community development,  but also adaptive reuse of historic structures and first time homebuyer programs and initiatives.

Ellinger Carr is a business law and commercial real estate law firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina.   Ellinger Carr lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable counselors, transaction specialists and business problem solvers, admitted to practice in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and New York.  For assistance in affordable housing, commercial real estate and corporate and business development matters, call 919-785-9998 or email Susan Ellinger at,  Sarah Goodin at, Heather McDowell at or Steven Carr at

Voting Rights and Responsibilities: Making Reasoned Choices

by Steven Carr, August 16, 2020

— “Come now, let us reason together . . .”  Isaiah 1:18 (King James Version).

In a season of racial unrest and civil rights protests that led to violence and death in American cities, 55 years ago, President Lyndon Johnson came to speak to an extraordinary joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  He was seeking to persuade the Congress to adopt legislation that came to be called the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The speech, delivered on March 15, 1965, occurred just a few days after the Selma “Bloody Sunday” march on March 6.

Historians note that Johnson often quoted the passage from Isaiah 1:18, a favorite Bible verse of his father, “Come now, let us reason together . . .” In his speech on March 15, Johnson alluded to the Isaiah verse, stating “I am grateful for this opportunity to come here tonight at the invitation of the leadership to reason with my friends, to give them my views, and to visit with my former colleagues.”  This was classic Johnson, and this speech was a classic and lyrical expression of what Johnson believed and what he strived to achieve as both a powerful Senate leader and as President.

At his inauguration earlier that year, his address was described as “a ringing call for national unity and noble deeds couched in almost biblical language.”  He declared that “the oath I have taken before you and before God is not mine alone but ours together. … For every generation there is a destiny. For some, history decides.  For this generation, the choice must be our own.”

In the March 15 speech, he returned to the themes of “the dignity of man and the destiny of democracy.”  In pressing for the Voting Rights Act, which had been rejected in the 1964 Civil Rights Act he signed into law the previous summer, Johnson was persuaded that Black Americans were being denied their right to vote and to register to vote by certain voting suppression practices in Southern states, and that Federal law was required to insure equal voting rights for all people and to affirm our country’s founding principle and purpose of equality of opportunity for all.

For President Johnson, this equality of opportunity meant that each citizen shall “share in freedom” — the opportunity to choose leaders, to educate our children, and to provide for our families “according to [each person’s] ability and . . . merits as a human being.” Johnson said: “Our fathers believed that if this noble view of the rights of man was to flourish, it must be rooted in democracy.  The most basic right of all was the right to choose your own leaders.  The history of this country, in large measure, is the history of the expansion of that right to all of our people.  Many of the issues of civil rights are very complex and most difficult.  But about this there can and should be no argument.  Every American must have an equal right to vote.  There is no reason which can excuse the denial of that right.  There is no duty which weighs more heavily on us than the duty we have to ensure that right.”

This month, we celebrate the achievement of voting rights protections for citizens of color 55 years ago.  We also remember and celebrate the right of women to vote, secured and ratified in our Constitution on August 18, but only 100 years ago.

And as we exercise our right to vote in the coming national and State elections, let us do so celebrating not only the right to vote, but also acknowledging and affirming our responsibility as citizens – to be knowledgeable and well-informed on the issues of our day, to make good and reasonable choices, and to seek to persuade each other and to achieve compromise and consensus on the best ways forward for safety, health, opportunity, economic prosperity, justice and peace for all Americans.

In this season of pandemic, racial unrest, anarchy and violence in American cities, and even now a new debate about voting and voting methods, this is also a time for all Americans — Democrats, Republicans, Independents, liberals, progressives, conservatives, libertarians – all of us, to come now to reason together.  In this time, we must choose, and we must come together in common cause.

We must summon the power of science, and reason, to find better and effective ways and technologies to detect the coronavirus with speedier and more effective testing, and to defeat the coronavirus with effective vaccines and cures.

We also all must come together, and reason together, to choose a better path and a better way of speaking with each other and dealing with each other — justly, compassionately, lawfully and respectfully.  As President Johnson did 55 years ago, we must speak and reason with each other, as fellow Americans and fellow citizens of the planet, for the dignity of humankind and for the destiny of democracy.  We must speak with each other and reason with each other, and we must choose peace, opportunity, and plenty, and security and safety on our streets and in our neighborhoods.  We must choose and strive together for peace, prosperity and good health among the community of nations and peoples all over the world.

We must demand that our elected leaders – 435 Representatives, 100 Senators, Governors, State and local representatives, and our President and Vice President — also must meet, exchange views and negotiate, compromise and reach consensus on the policies and the laws and the appropriations for technological advances for the greater good for all of us.   They must come together, and reason together, to do their jobs, and to serve us, and to help make us a more perfect union.

What does it mean “to reason together”?

In the law of North Carolina, contracting parties are expected to exercise their discretion “in a reasonable manner based on good faith and fair play.”  What does “reasonable” mean?  I read a lot of statutes and court decisions to get a practical definition, and sometimes I get good instruction on Sunday mornings.  I rely on my learned pastor for theology, religious instruction, and often for new insights gained from her skillful use of words.  In one of her recent sermons, she noted that “to be reasonable is to be logically consistent.” That rings true. But what does “logically consistent” mean?  Logic is defined as a branch of philosophy concerned with analyzing the patterns of reasoning by which a conclusion is properly drawn from a set of premises, or a system or principles of argument or reasoning.

The word logic derives from the Greek logikos, concerning speech or reasoning.  The root of logikos is logos, the Greek word for “word” and, in theological uses the word logos, as used in the first chapter of the Gospel of John describes the divine word – or reason incarnate.  The word is akin to legein – to choose, gather, recount, tell over, or speak.   Thus, to be reasonable is to choose words carefully, and to draw good conclusions from an agreed upon set of facts or premises.

And “to reason” means “to think logically” and “to draw logical conclusions from facts or premises” and “to urge or seek to persuade by reasoning.”

President Johnson once said: “the only real power available to the leader is the power of persuasion.” Although his record as president was marred by the quagmire of the war in Vietnam, Johnson was often powerfully persuasive and effective in achieving compromise and practicing consensus politics, to advance the causes of civil rights, voting rights, a war on poverty, and forward progress on his vision of justice, liberty, unity, and a Great Society.

As our national election in 2020 approaches, and the opinion polls continue to show how divided we all are, and in the midst of mask mandates and social distancing guidelines, is it realistic to expect that we can come together and reason together?  Are we so hopelessly divided and entrenched in our viewpoints and our beliefs that we have no realistic chance of achieving consensus and persuading anyone of anything?  I don’t know, for sure, but I believe we must try.  I believe in the promise of this country, and in the blessings we can secure for all Americans if we come together to move forward together and to defeat our common enemies:  disease, poverty, and ignorance.

In that 1965 speech, President Johnson implored his friends and former colleagues: “I say to all of you here, and to all in the Nation tonight, that those who appeal to you to hold on to the past do so at the cost of denying you your future.  This great, rich, restless country can offer opportunity and education and hope to all. … This is one Nation.  What happens in Selma or in Cincinnati is a matter of legitimate concern to every American. … In Selma as everywhere we seek and pray for peace.  We seek order.  We seek unity.”

Biblical scholars say that the Isaiah passage that Johnson was fond of is better translated as a warning and an injunction of the prophet from God – “come, let’s settle the matter.”  Humankind are on trial, and God is patiently reaching out and asking his covenant people to choose to obey and to leave behind our idols and our mistakes and our bad decisions.  I think this translation works well for a renewal of the American covenant also.

Let us choose to settle the matter.  Let us choose to seek each other out, and to learn from, and to listen to, each other, to employ science and to make good decisions, in order to preserve and unify and rescue our country and our fellow citizens.  Let us learn, and reason, and seek to persuade each other and our elected leaders about how we can best achieve the most powerful and effective solutions to common problems and agree on the most effective ways to defeat our common enemies.


Home Work: Building Affordable Housing in Wake County and North Carolina; Renters at Risk

North Carolina and Wake County are continuing to keep pace and to set the pace of residential real estate development in spite of months of coronavirus pandemic, and we are bucking the reported slowdown of affordable housing construction elsewhere in the United States, as reported by a recent Bloomberg News article (July 30, 2020), “COVID-19 is Killing Affordable Housing, Just as It’s Needed Most.”

The Raleigh News & Observer reported in mid-July 2020 on a number of upcoming and proposed residential developments in Wake County, including both market-rate and affordable housing properties.    The article notes that the Raleigh City Council approved a rezoning request from Raleigh affordable housing developer DHIC and senior home developer Presbyterian Homes to redevelop the closed Memorial Presbyterian Church at 1950 New Bern Avenue in east Raleigh.  Construction is expected to commence in early 2021 with 150 units for seniors making 60% or less of area median income.

The Crenshaw Trace development is another senior affordable housing development in Wake Forest, slated to begin construction later this summer by the Taft-Mills Group, a Greenville, North Carolina developer, with 68 units (36 one-bedroom and 32 two-bedroom units) for residents over 55 making 30% to 80% of area median income.  Rents will range from $476 to $1,086, according to the N&O report, and will be supported by a Wake County loan of $731,000.  Wake County Commissioners approved loan funding of up to $12.6 million last April for the building of affordable housing, including the Crenshaw Trace development.

The Taft-Mills Group also expects to commence construction later this summer of the Walnut Trace development, a 180-unit development in 6 buildings on Rock Quarry Road in southeast Raleigh, serving families with 60% of area median income.   The Walnut Trace development will be financed by low income housing tax credit equity funding, Raleigh Housing Authority tax exempt and taxable multifamily housing revenue bonds up to $23 million, and an affordable housing loan of $2,250,000 from the City of Raleigh.

The Taft-Mills Group also recently closed and will commence construction of the Farrington Trace development in Greenville, Pitt County, 80 apartment units serving families with incomes at 60% or less of area median income.  This development is financed with 9% low income housing tax credit equity financing, and loans from the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.

Renters at Risk

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition and their Out of Reach 2020 Report, 35% of nearly 4 million households in North Carolina are renters’ households.  The Report states that the North Carolina worker earning an average renter wage of $15.92 per hour could afford a rent of $828 per month, but the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $919, and thus “out of reach” for many North Carolinians.

According to the Bloomberg News article, affordable housing advocates are also concerned that the COVID-19 pandemic will not only slow down construction of new affordable housing units, but that many people now unemployed due to the pandemic face eviction because they can’t pay the rent.  Pending legislation currently being debated and negotiated in Congress may extend the CARES Act eviction moratorium, which expired on July 25, and provide additional housing and financial assistance to unemployed and other struggling Americans, and to State and local governments to continue funding affordable housing initiatives.   One estimate is that as many as 40% of Americans may be at risk of eviction for non-payment of rent if the eviction moratorium is not extended and renters are unable to return to work.

Ellinger Carr lawyers are affordable housing advocates and we are honored and proud to serve our nonprofit and for-profit developer clients, and as counsel in support of affordable housing and community development initiatives for the City of Raleigh and the City of Greensboro, and other housing professionals and organizations.

Ellinger Carr is a business law and commercial real estate law firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina.   Ellinger Carr lawyers are experienced and knowledgeable counselors, transaction leaders and business problem solvers, admitted to practice in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana and New York.  For assistance in commercial real estate and corporate and business development matters, call 919-785-9998 or email Susan Ellinger at, Heather McDowell at,  Sarah Goodin at and Steven Carr at