Lebanon Mayor Tim McNamara wrote a letter to Governor Chris Sununu outlining an urgent situation the day after the midterm elections.
A shortage of federal funds caused the New Hampshire rental aid program to stop, and some of the recipients were set to lose their homes, according to McNamara.
New Hampshire Rental Assistance
A significant portion of the residents getting rental assistance had stayed in hotels during stays covered by the rental relief program. He wrote that the residents will now probably be evicted.
Municipalities will soon realize that their municipal welfare resources are insufficient to address this need, according to McNamara.
The state reacted last week. After the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee approved the $20 million request on Friday, New Hampshire officials will use $20 million in federal COVID relief funds to assist the hundreds of people without houses to remain in hotels over the winter. The Executive Council gave its approval to the spending on Tuesday.
Any hotel resident who submitted a rental relief application before October 21, the day the state stopped accepting new applications, will be eligible to receive the $20 million approved by the Fiscal Committee. According to Chase Hagaman, deputy director of the Governor’s Office for Rental Relief and Recovery, those who are staying in hotels but did not have an application on file before October 21 will not be qualified.
How many people would profit is unknown. According to a Granite State News Collaborative story, more than 700 people who receive rental assistance were reportedly living in hotels in September owing to a dearth of accessible housing. For November, the state hasn’t disclosed exact totals.
A coalition of organizations from across the state, including representatives for Housing Action, Families in Transition, ABLE NH, Waypoint, and several mayors and select board members, wrote a letter to Sununu on November 1 that put pressure on him.
Previous Rental Assistance Fund Runs Out
It looks like the $20 million is going to be a great help, said Elliott Berry, the recently retired Housing Project Director for New Hampshire Legal Assistance, in an interview. But it does little for the enormous number of people who are unable to pay the rent that the emergency room rental assistance program has been covering on their behalf.
Housing Action New Hampshire, a nonprofit organization, issued a statement on Friday saying, “We are pleased that the Fiscal Committee approved additional, American Rescue Plan Act funds to keep people who are currently staying in hotels and motels housed through the chilly winter months, and we urge the Executive Council to support this time-sensitive issue as well.”
Hagaman stated that the state now has roughly $100 million left over from the initial $1.2 billion ARPA grant after two years of spending. The drawback of approaching the end of the financing pool, he explained, is that you have to determine your objectives right away.