Housing Action NH
May 2016 News & Legislative Update 
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Housing Action NH
 News and Legislative Update 
May 2016
NH State House Dome
Advocacy for inclusion of recovery housing in the state’s response to the substance use disorder crisis remains a priority of Housing Action NH’s work at the state level. At the federal level, members of NH’s congressional delegation have been leading the way on necessary reforms to rural housing programs to protect affordable units and tenants. Scroll through for an update on these items and other housing and homelessness news.
IN THIS ISSUE:

FEDERAL

Rural Housing Preservation Act Introduced. Representative Kuster and Senator Shaheen have introduced companion bills in the House and Senate to address necessary updates to USDA’s Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Loans Program to ensure residents with low incomes, typically elderly and disabled, can be assisted when the property mortgage matures. Specifically, the legislation provides vouchers to residents in pre-paid and maturing properties, and ensures flexibility of their value of housing vouchers, an important feature for NH, where market rents are high. It also decouples rental assistance from the term of a mortgage, allowing the USDA to renew rental assistance for a property regardless of the length of the mortgage that is outstanding or the type of payment.
 
FY ’17 Budget. The Senate Committee on Appropriations passed its FY ‘17 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) funding bill on April 21 by a vote of 30 to 0. The full Senate is expected to vote on the package when it returns from recess on May 9. An updated budget chart with funding levels coming out of the Committee can be found at budget chart here.
 
National Housing Trust Fund. HUD Secretary Julián Castro recently announced that nearly $174 million will soon be available for the inaugural allocation of dedicated resources for the National Housing Trust Fund (NHTF). Secretary Castro said that HUD expects to announce in the Federal Register individual allocations to states later this spring, and that he anticipates the funds could be drawn upon as early as this summer. New Hampshire is expected to receive $3 million. Meanwhile, HUD has released the Allocation Plan Guidance. A link to that document and background information with further links can be found here.  

Tax Credits. Senator Maria Cantwell announced a plan to introduce legislation that would raise the cap on the Low Income Housing Tax Credit by at least 50%, which is predicted to fund an additional 400,000 units nationwide over the next decade. The A.C.T.I.O.N. Campaign circulated a sign on letter supporting this proposal. Housing Action NH and several member organizations signed on in support of raising the Housing Tax Credit. 

STATE

Supportive Housing for Recovery. A proposed $2 million appropriation to the NH Affordable Housing Fund to construct supportive housing for those with substance use disorders was proposed in SB528, a bill sponsored by Senator Feltes. While that bill was sent to interim study in the Senate, its appropriation was folded into SB533, an omnibus bill that also includes $3 million for the Governor's Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery. Advocates worked together to present a comprehensive plan to the House Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee, where it was amended to better delineate how the funds would be appropriated. The bill passed the full House on policy, and is now in House Finance awaiting a recommendation.
 
NH Passes Landmark ADU Law. In a ceremony held during Home Matters in NH Week, Governor Hassan signed legislation that makes NH one of the few states in the country to allow homeowners to add an attached accessory dwelling unit as a matter of right through a conditional use permit or by special exception as determined by their municipalities. SB146 removes a significant regulatory barrier to increasing rental homes at no cost to taxpayers. NH’s efforts are outlined in the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Memo to Members, here.
 
Medicaid for Supportive Housing Services. Housing Action NH, working with CSH, has kicked off its Medicaid Institute for NH providers who will leave the program this fall with individualized business plans toward seeking payment for supportive housing services through Medicaid. Participants from 12 agencies statewide were selected to participate in the 6-month program culminating in September.
 
Meanwhile, the Department of Health & Human Services is pursuing a DSRIP/1115 Waiver, a plan to distribute $150 million in Medicaid funds over five years. Funds are intended to build greater behavioral health capacity statewide, improve integration of physical and behavioral health, and improve care transitions through seven proposed Integrated Delivery Networks now in formative stages. Letters of intent for administrative leads were accepted through the end of April, with those received posted at the waiver website. Importantly, supportive housing services are recognized as a part of the community supports necessary to meeting the waiver goals. Providers are encouraged to connect with potential administrative leads now in order to be included as planning gets underway. (Info, including LOIs submitted, are listed here.)
NEWS OF NOTE

Sequestration’s toll on affordable housing
Deadlock Over the Federal Budget Made the Affordable-Housing Crisis Worse published in CityLab details a report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
 
Evictions rise with growing rent burdens
NPR published a series entitled Staving Off Eviction, detailing the reality low-income renters face in finding and keeping a safe, affordable home. 

REPORTS

NH 2016 Homeless Point in Time Count Released
The annual count of the state’s homeless population was released last week, and shows an overall decline in the numbers of homeless, including a steep decline in veteran’s homelessness as NH moves toward ending homelessness among those who have served in our military. This year, the report shows 34% of sheltered and unsheltered homeless adults self-report a substance use disorder, and 31% self-report a severe and persistent mental illness. Click here for details and map of the state showing county-level data.
 
Family Options Study
A study from Vanderbilt University prepared for HUD suggests that a housing voucher is the most effective solution for family homelessness. The study examined more than 2,000 homeless families in a dozen communities over an 18-month period. The study will continue over the next 3 years. Find it here.
 
Housing as a Health Care Investment
New research from Children’s HealthWatch shows public investment in housing improves health outcomes of vulnerable infants and young children and lowers health care spending. Read the brief by the National Housing Coalition.
 
Joint Center for Housing Studies Releases Policy History of Affordable Housing
Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies released a new paper on the history of affordable housing policy in the U.S. and preservation efforts. The paper describes the shift in policy in the 1960s from public housing to public-private arrangements with nonprofit and for-profit companies, and describes the decline of funding beginning in the 1980s.

EVENTS

Multifamily Housing Conference - Sponsored by New Hampshire Housing
Thursday, May 12, 8 am – 2:30 pm, Portsmouth Harbor Events & Conference Center. Must pre-register. Info and registration form available here

Housing Matters Workgroup
Friday, May 13, 10-11:30 am, 119 Airport Road, Concord
Hosted by Housing Action NH, open to all Housing Action NH members. Contact Laurel@housingactionnh.org for details.

NH Conference on Homelessness
Sept. 29, time, location TBD.
Mark your calendar; details to come.

HOME MATTERS IN NH WEEK RECAP

ADU Bill Signing
Home Matters in NH Week got a running start with the announcement by Representative Kuster on her sponsorship of the Rural Housing Preservation Act, which Senator Shaheen also introduced in the Senate. Advocates also celebrated the passage of NH’s landmark Accessory Dwellings Law at a signing ceremony with Governor Hassan during the Week.

Housing Action NH recognized legislators, advocates and media who have gone above and beyond to inform, advocate and advance policies that help ensure everyone in NH has a place to call home with a Home Matters in NH Award.
Senator David Boutin (R-Hooksett), Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord), Rep. James Belanger (R-Hollis) and Rep. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsborough) were recognized in the Legislators category. Boutin and Feltes were lauded in particular for their work on an important appropriation to NH’s Affordable Housing Fund. Belanger and Porter, the chair and former chair of the House Municipal & County Government Committee, were nominated for their work leading to passage of NH’s landmark new law governing Accessory Dwellings.
 
Families in Transition President Maureen Beauregard was recognized in the Advocates category for her decades-long dedication to helping families with children exit homelessness.
 
Valley News reporter Nora Doyle-Burr and photographer James Patterson were recognized in the Media category for outstanding work to explain and put a human face on the complicated and potentially devastating loss of affordable rental homes in the Upper Valley due to expiring USDA mortgages.
 
A special thanks to all Housing Action NH members and supporters for making the week visible on social media with your shares, likes and retweets.
Reps. Belanger & Porter
Senators Feltes & Boutin
Maureen Beauregard, Mike LaFontaine

JOIN HOUSING ACTION NH

Our unique coalition focuses on NH issues, and we are stronger together! To join Housing Action NH, simply download, complete and return our one-page member form. Contact our membership coordinator at Laurel@housingactionnh.org for more information on becoming a member.
 

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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