Housing Action NH
December 2015 News & Legislative Update 
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Housing Action NH
 News and Legislative Update 
December 2015
US Capitol Dome
Housing advocates are gearing up for the new state legislative session and a potential major advancement if the House affirms the committee recommendation on the formerly retained accessory dwelling units bill, SB 146. At the federal level, Congress passed and the President signed an omnibus spending bill and tax extenders package that includes several victories.
 
Housing Action NH wishes all a good holiday season. We look forward to working with you in 2016 to improve state and federal policy so everyone in New Hampshire has a place to call home. 
IN THIS ISSUE:

FEDERAL

FY2016 Omnibus. Last week, Congress passed and the President signed an omnibus spending bill that funds government until 2016 and includes additional revenue as a result of the budget deal raising the sequester caps. The omnibus funds all 12 appropriations bills, including the T-HUD and USDA bills. Key provisions for housing advocates include:
 
- HOME: The HOME program, cut by almost 93% in a prior version coming from the Senate Appropriations Committee, was restored to a level of $950 million. This will likely keep New Hampshire's HOME program running at the small state minimum level of $3 million.
 
Homeless Assistance Grants: The omnibus increases Homeless Assistance Grants from FY15’s $2.135B to $2.250B.
 
Public Housing Operating and Capital Funds: The package includes inadequate increases for public housing operations (84% of full funding) and capital needs (55% of annual accrual).

- Housing Choice Vouchers: Funded at $17.682 billion, enough to fund vouchers currently in use.
 
- National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF): No NHTF funds are raided in the omnibus.
 
- USDA Rural Development: Necessary increases for rental assistance.
 
- New VASH Vouchers: The spending package includes new rental assistance vouchers for veterans, a key tool needed to end veterans' homelessness.
 
- MTW Expansion: The omnibus authorizes another 100 Moving to Work agencies over the next seven years, and extends current MTW agreements through 2028. NH is home to one of the original MTW pilots at Keene Housing.
 
Tax Extenders. The tax extenders package passed by Congress and signed by the President, known as the PATH Act, makes the 9% credit rate permanent and retroactive to January 1, 2015 for new construction and substantial rehabilitation using the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program (LIHTC).  The bill does not, however, establish a minimum 4% credit rate for acquisition that housing advocates had requested. 
 
Also made permanent were enhanced tax credits for low-income families that were scheduled to expire at the end of 2017: the child tax credit, the American Opportunity tax credit, and the earned income tax credit (EITC).

Finally, of interest to 501(c)3 organizations, the PATH Act makes permanent the IRA Charitable Rollover and enhanced deductions for land conservation easements and food inventories. It also creates an administrative appeal process for any 501(c) organization that receives an adverse determination from the IRS.
 
Housing Legislation Within Highway Bill. Four housing bills were included in the highway bill passed by Congress and signed by the President in early December:
 
- The “Tenant Income Verification Relief Act of 2015” (H.R. 233) permits HUD to allow public and assisted housing administrators to verify income once every three years instead of annually for low-income tenants that have fixed incomes, such as income derived from Social Security payments.
 
- The “Housing Assistance Efficiency Act” (H.R. 1047) amends the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to allow private nonprofit organizations to administer permanent housing rental assistance provided through the Continuum of Care Program. Many NH service providers had advocated for this change.
 
- The “Preservation Enhancement and Savings Opportunity Act of 2015” (H.R. 2482) amends the Low Income Housing Preservation and Resident Homeownership Act of 1990 (LIHPRHA) to permit owners (including nonprofits) of multifamily developments subsidized by HUD through Section 8 rental assistance programs, supportive housing for the elderly, or supportive housing for people with disabilities to access income derived from such developments provided that the owners adhere to HUD’s affordability and compliance standards.
 
- The “Private Investment in Housing Act” (H.R. 2997), authorizes the HUD Secretary to establish a demonstration program under which the Secretary may enter into budget-neutral, performance-based energy- and water-saving agreements with appropriate entities for up to 12 years.
 
Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act. A bill to streamline key HUD programs and practices was recently passed out of the House Financial Services Committee. The bill would streamline inspections, make a number of improvements to the project-basing of Section 8 vouchers, and expand flexibility between public housing operating and capital funds. Although the bill was initially deemed non-controversial, Committee Ranking Member Maxine Waters (D-CA) was joined by nine Democrats in opposing the bill due to the bill’s treatment of income deductions for child care, medical, and disability assistance expenses.
 
Rural Housing Preservation Act. In response to the preservation challenges of USDA 515 properties and risks of tenant displacement, Representative Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02) has drafted the Rural Housing Preservation Act. The bill would provide vouchers to residents in pre-paid and maturing properties, ensure flexibility in the value of housing vouchers and decouple rental assistance from the term of the mortgage. The bill has the support of Housing Action NH, the New England Housing Network, the National Housing Law Project and the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

STATE

Accessory Dwelling Units. Senate Bill 146, passed by the Municipal and County Government Committee with an amendment, is scheduled for a House floor vote Jan. 6. Housing Action NH supports the bill, which allows an accessory dwelling unit in single-family homes as a matter of right through a conditional use permit or by special exception. This bill is viewed as a key statewide strategy to provide needed housing for NH’s growing senior population and others requiring in-home care.
 
Market Study Bill – Housing Action NH will oppose House Bill 1617 filed by Rep. Tara Sad and assigned to the House Commerce Committee. HB 1617 would prohibit New Hampshire Housing from funding any housing project unless a market study supports the need for a housing project in the proposed location. The bill could seriously hamper new development, redevelopment, fair housing practices and the NH workforce housing law. 
 
Termination of Tenancy. House Bill 1370 has been filed by Rep. Warren Groen, proposing additional grounds for the termination of tenancy in seven days, including failure to maintain utilities and unapproved visitors.
 
NH Health Protection Program. Housing Action NH is supporting reauthorization of the program that extends Medicaid to adults with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level. At least two Legislative Service Requests have been filed, one by Rep. Thomas Sherman and another by Rep. Joseph Lachance, the latter of which has support from Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, and is considered the one most likely to advance. However, final bill text remains unpublished for either proposal.

Meantime, the NH Fiscal Policy Institute has published a new brief explaining the program. The Concord Monitor and Union-Leader have also covered different aspects of the issue.
 
Minimum Wage. Several bills have been proposed so far to increase NH’s minimum wage of $7.25/hour. These include House Bill 1480, sponsored by Rep. Ed Butler, which would raise the hourly wage to $9.50 for non-tipped employees and $5.00 for tipped employees by 2019. House Bill 1346, proposed by Rep. Jackie Cilley, would pay tipped employees the federal minimum wage by 2020. Additional bills may be filed relative to the minimum wage.

REPORTS

State of Homelessness in New Hampshire
The NH Coalition to End Homelessness issued its 2015 State of Homelessness Report, which finds progress has slowed in ending homelessness in NH, and cites an “Increasingly scarce affordable housing market” among the reasons. Access the report here
 
America’s Rental Housing: Expanding Options for Diverse and Growing Demand
Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies released its biennial rental housing report this month. The report notes the pace of production of multifamily rental housing is increasing, but after 30 years, it is not close to meeting demand as incomes have stagnated and housing costs skyrocketed. The report, along with an interactive map showing where and how many renters in NH are paying more than they can afford in rent, is online here.

NEW INITIATIVE - SUPPORTIVE HOUSING

In 2016, Housing Action NH will increase its work to integrate supportive housing into state Medicaid policy, partnering with CSH to launch a Medicaid Institute for supportive housing providers and developing the business case for the significant public cost savings due to supportive housing. For more information, contact Housing Action’s director, Elissa Margolin at Elissa@housingactionnh.org.

HOMELESS MEMORIAL

Several vigils were held this week across NH to honor and remember homeless individuals who have died this year; the last vigil takes place Tuesday night in Nashua; click for details.  

We pause to remember the following people who were unable to find place to call home:
James Allard
Katrina Anctil
Karlee B.
Anthony Ballance
Victoria Boucher
Richard Brown
Stephen D.
Kerry Donnelly
Desmond Earle
Robert "Red" Glodgett
Gayle H.
Russell Holden
Jeffery Howarth
Delly Ireland
Marc L.
Jean L.
Lisa M.
Tammy Marshall
Milly Martin-Laraway
Thomas E. Meloon
Donna O’Toole
Laura R.
Stephen Plourde
Warren “Kevin” Russell
Michael S.
Bill Sacs
Alex Short
David Swinyer
April Welch
George Wilson
Perry Wood
In Memoriam
Housing Action NH extends deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of NH economist Dennis Delay of the NH Center for Public Policy Studies. His research has informed our advocacy and that of others for many years, and he will be missed.

WELCOME NEW MEMBER

Please join us in welcoming a new member to Housing Action NH’s coalition: Steven Lewis, Inc.

Thank you to all sponsors and members who have chosen to support Housing Action NH’s coalition in 2015. Your membership ensures our coalition continues to be the strongest advocate for public policies and investments to increase affordable housing and end homelessness in NH. 

JOIN HOUSING ACTION NH

Is your business or organization a Housing Action NH member? We invite you to join and add your voice to our growing coalition. Click here for more information: or contact our membership coordinator at Laurel@housingactionnh.org about becoming a member.

HOUSING ACTION NH MEMBERS: AHEAD, Alliance Asset Management, Inc., Anagnost Companies, American Friends Service Committee, Ascentria Care Alliance, Avesta Housing Development Corp., Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Program, CATCH Neighborhood Housing, Center for Life Management, Centrix Bank, Chinburg Properties, Citizens Housing and Planning Association, Concord Coalition to End Homelessness, Community Housing of Maine, Cross Roads House, Dakota Partners, Inc., Attorney John Deachman, Dover Housing Authority, Eastern Lakes Region Housing Coalition, Every Child Matters in New Hampshire, Families in Transition, Family Connections Resource Center, Fellowship Housing Opportunities, Inc., The Friends Program, Granite State Managers Association, Great Bridge Properties, Greater Nashua Mental Health Center, Greater Seacoast Coalition on Homelessness, Granite State Independent Living, Granite State Organizing Project, Home Builders and Remodelers Association of NH, Homeless Center for Strafford County, Housing Initiatives of New England Corporation, Harbor Homes, Inc., The Housing Partnership, Isaiah 58 New Hampshire, J. Ronald Terwilliger Foundation for Housing America’s Families, Keene Housing, Laconia Area Community Land Trust, Laconia Housing Authority, Lake Sunapee Bank, League of Women Voters New Hampshire, Manchester Housing Authority, Marguerite’s Place, Inc., Maria Sillari, Consultant, Merrimack Valley Assistance Program, My Friend’s Place, Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, National Housing Conference + Center for Housing Policy, NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire, Nesseralla & Company, LLC, NH Community Development Finance Authority, NH Community Loan Fund, NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, NH Coalition to End Homelessness, NH Council of Churches, New Hampshire Housing, NH Legal Assistance, Northern New England Housing Investment Fund, Otis/Atwell, Pentucket Bank, People’s United Bank, Portsmouth Housing Authority, Seacoast Family Promise, Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Exeter, Southern NH Services, Inc., Southwestern Community Services, Inc., Steven Lewis, Inc., Stewart Property Management, TD Bank, N.A., The Front Door Agency, The Way Home, Twin Pines Housing Trust, United Valley Interfaith Project, Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast 
 

ABOUT HOUSING ACTION NH: Housing Action NH was created to build and coordinate alliances in effective advocacy for strong federal and state investment in the preservation of existing affordable housing, the development of new affordable housing, rental subsidies for low income families and strong policies and funding to serve the homeless and end homelessness. For more information about our work, see our website.



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