Housing Action NH
July 2016 News & Legislative Update 
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Housing Action NH
 News and Legislative Update 
July 2016
SB533 Signing
A successful state legislative session closed with the signing of SB 533, appropriating $2 million to the Affordable Housing Fund for those with substance use disorders. Housing advocates were also pleased to see signs of progress at the federal level with the introduction of the Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act in the US Senate as well as a LIHTC expansion proposal. Details on these and other topics, as well as reports and events of interest to NH housing advocates follow.
IN THIS ISSUE:
FEDERAL
Tax Credits Increase. Senator Maria Cantwell and Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch have introduced the “Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2016” (S. 2962). The bill would increase the allocation of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program by 50% over five years. This would add another $1.5 million annually in tax credits for development in NH by Year 5. It also calls for making the 4% tax credit rate floor permanent for acquisition and bond-financed projects. Notably for NH, where market rents are far above average, it would allow income averaging for an entire development rather than for individual units so some units could be offered to families with incomes over the 60% of AMI income limit as long as the incomes average out to under 60%. Additional legislation to address problematic technical aspects of the program is anticipated.
 
Senate Introduces HOTMA. A companion bill to the “Housing Opportunities Through Modernization Act,” which passed the House unanimously early this year, was introduced in the Senate on June 22. Like the House version (H.R. 3700), S. 3083 eases administrative burdens for housing agencies and owners and improves assistance to families. National advocates, including the National Low Income Housing Coalition, are calling on Senators to co-sponsor S. 3083 and pass H.R. 3700. To view their letter to Senators, click here.
 
National Housing Trust Fund. After a public hearing held in June, the Draft Allocation Plan for NH’s allocation of National Housing Trust Fund dollars is open for comment through July 15. Click here to read Housing Action NH’s comments shared at the public hearing. From there, the plan will be sent to the governor’s office and to HUD.
 
Rural Housing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Housing Service (RHS) issued a Notice in the Federal Register that describes policies and procedures for providing Rural Development vouchers in 2016. These vouchers are available only to low-income residents of multifamily properties financed with a Rural Development (RD) Section 515 Rural Rental Housing loan that has been prepaid or undergone foreclosure prior to the loan’s maturity. A total of $15 million for RD vouchers is available for FY16.
 
Criminal Justice Reform and Housing. HUD released new guidance to public housing agencies (PHAs) and other stakeholders to encourage greater efforts to house people with criminal records. The guidance, “It Starts with Housing,” discusses ways HUD is supporting PHA efforts to provide housing for justice-involved individuals and highlights reentry models currently used by some PHAs, and lessons learned developing them.

Fair Housing. Senator Jeanne Shaheen today introduced the Fair Housing for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Survivors Act of 2016. S. 3164 would create protections for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors who face housing discrimination. NH does not have in place state-level anti-discrimination protections for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
 
STATE
Supportive Housing Funded. A $2 million appropriation to the NH Affordable Housing Fund to construct supportive housing for people with substance use disorders passed the state legislature and was signed into law by Governor Hassan June 25.  In addition to the supportive housing provision, SB533 also includes $3 million for prevention and treatment. A Request for Proposals is anticipated soon from New Hampshire Housing.
 
Medicaid Expansion Draft Waiver Amendment Released.  Following the reauthorization of the NH Health Protection Program by the legislature, the NH Department of Health and Human Services has released a proposed Draft Waiver Amendment. Housing Action NH is concerned with the burden of citizenship verification for coverage on the homeless population and will be sharing comments with the Department before the August 1 deadline. 

REPORTS


2016 NH Rental Cost Survey Released
New Hampshire Housing released its annual Rental Cost Survey this week. The 2016 report shows rents have increased almost 15% over the last five years, and a median 2-bedroom rent now stands at $1,206 per month statewide. Some areas, such as Rockingham and Hillsborough counties exceed the state median.  At the same time, it shows vacancies at an all-time low of just 1.5% with decreases in vacancy rates in seven of 10 NH counties since last year, exacerbating an already tight market for NH renters. Read the full report.
 
CBPP Chart Book on Rental Assistance, Children
A new report issued by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities illustrates the connection between rental assistance and outcomes for children.

EVENTS

BIA of NH Forum on Workforce Housing
Friday, Sept. 9, 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Radisson Hotel, Manchester
Sponsored by NH Housing, in partnership with Housing Action NH and the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast. Luncheon and panel discussion on housing challenges, the impact of housing on hiring, how cost and availability of housing affects young working professionals' decisions on where to live, how housing advocates and businesses are working together to improve housing availability and affordability, and local and regional planning for new housing.  Find more information on this luncheon event and registration here.
 
NH Conference on Homelessness
Thursday, Sept. 29
Grappone Conference Center, Concord
Mark your calendar for this annual full-day conference that includes keynote, plenary and workshop breakout sessions. Details to come.
 
NH Healthy Homes Conference
Tuesday, October 25

Grappone Conference Center, Concord

Full day conference includes topics on communicating in rural areas on home safety, water contamination, SIDS, radon, asthma, lead, healthy living for aging, landlord-tenant responsibilities for maintaining safe and healthy homes and more. Info and registration info here.

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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