Responding to requests from housing advocates, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery has announced $57 million in CARES Act funding for housing stabilization, homeless shelter modification, and services for veterans experiencing homelessness. The NH Housing Relief Fund, funded at $35 million, launched on June 30.
Administered through the state’s five area Community Action Programs (CAP), the housing stabilization program provides two avenues for support for NH residents struggling with housing costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic: 1) one-time grants for household expenses including utilities, mortgage payments, or rent; and 2) short-term rental assistance for those in need of more comprehensive support. Since the launch of the NH Housing Relief Fund, CAP agencies have received 3,692 applications. The launch of the housing stabilization program coincided with the end of the state’s moratorium on evictions on July 1.
The governor also announced the Homeless Shelter Modification program. Funded at $15 million, grant funds will be administered by the state’s housing finance agency and made available to existing shelters for physical modifications and operating costs. The goal of the program is to enable shelters to meet new public health guidelines to keep shelter guests safe. Governor Sununu announced another $7 million for homeless veterans from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund.
“We are pleased with this comprehensive approach to housing stabilization,” said Elissa Margolin, director of Housing Action NH, a NLIHC state partner. “Like other states, New Hampshire is particularly vulnerable to a full-scale evictions crisis since we have a very limited affordable rental housing supply.”
Housing Action NH has partnered with the state’s 46 shelters, the Bureau of Housing Supports at NH DHHS, and the NH Emergency Operations Center to implement emergency shelter decompression and isolation/quarantine measures for homeless shelters. “The coalition model centered on partnership and peer-support has never been more important,” said Elissa. “Our work during the pandemic has demonstrated that coalitions generate effective program implementation as well as effective advocacy.”
NLIHC’s 2020 Out of Reach report places New Hampshire as having the 15th most expensive housing wage in the nation, at $23.43. The state’s Residential Rental Costs Survey report shows vacancy rates below 1%.
To learn more about Housing Action NH, contact Elissa Margolin at [email protected].