May 2014 News & Legislative Update:
Session Wrap-Up 

UPCOMING EVENTS

Housing Matters Workgroup
Convened by Housing Action NH
Friday, June 13
, 10 am, Concord.
This group convenes monthly to learn, connect and share with a network of advocates united around affordable housing and ending homelessness. Open to any interested HANH member. Please contact Membership Coordinator Laurel Redden for details or to receive meeting notices at laurel@housingactionnh.org.

NH Housing/NH Legal Assistance
Fair Housing Conference, June 18,

Grappone Center, Concord.
Registration closes June 13, and is free but limited. Register here

Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston Affordable Housing Program training sessions and webinars
for 2014 funding round begin soon. The online application period runs from July 28- September 12. Portsmouth training session is May 29; various dates are scheduled throughout New England this spring and summer. The Bank has also scheduled several related webinars for member financial institutions, revolving loan funds, and rental and homeownership initiatives. For details on dates, locations and registration, see the FHLB website.
 
Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Conference September 15-16, Washington DC.
More details and registration here
 
NH Conference on Homelessness
October 20
, Concord.
Please mark your calendar and watch for more information on Housing Action NH’s website.
 
NH Housing
Annual Statewide Housing Conference
Series, Part 1: Economic and Market Update
October 29,
Manchester.
More information at link

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CONNECT WITH
HOUSING ACTION NH

Don’t Forget: Renew Membership
with Housing Action NH

Your membership in Housing Action NH’s coalition matters! With 65 organizations lifting our voice together, Housing Action NH creates a powerful, credible voice for policies that mean more affordable housing and ending homelessness. Help us help you and those you serve. Please watch for and respond to 2014 membership renewal notices.
 
Not Yet a Member? If your organization is not on the list below, please consider joining us. 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.
 
GET SOCIAL WITH
HOUSING ACTION NH

Please take a moment now to follow us @HousingActionNH on Twitter and like our Facebook page “Housing Action NH.” We update these channels frequently and are able to share more timely information there. 
 
As the state legislative session nears its close, housing advocates can celebrate important advocacy efforts, while still awaiting resolution on some key issues. This year’s challenge to the Workforce Housing Law was killed early on in the House, while a broad effort to advance fair housing looks likely to result in a legislative study commission.
 
NH’s Congressional delegation has also heard frequently from housing advocates regarding support for key HUD and USDA Rural Development programs in FY 15 appropriations, as well as support for the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program and critical disaster tax relief legislation.
 
See below for more housing policy news and links to helpful resources.

 
FEDERAL
 
Changes at HUD. President Obama last week nominated HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan as the new Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The President also nominated San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to take over leadership of HUD. Senate confirmation is required for OMB Director as well as for Cabinet Secretaries.
 
Housing Finance Reform. The US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs approved housing finance reform legislation on May 15 by a vote of 13-9.  However, because the measure was unable to garner support from six key Democratic senators on the Committee, the legislation is unlikely to advance to the full Senate before the end of the 113th Congress. As drafted, the bill would have provided $3.75 billion a year for the National Housing Trust Fund, which could have meant up to $5-10 million in additional funding for NH. The new director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Mel Watt, noted at a recent address that his agency will not be weighing in on the pending legislation.
 
2015 Budget. The House Appropriations Committee passed its Transportation-Housing & Urban Development (T-HUD) bill this week in a 28-21 vote. While the House bill level funds many key programs, the proposed cut to HOME could be another hit to this valued program if not restored in the Senate. Advocates are also seeking restoration of all of the vouchers lost to sequestration. See Housing Action NH's website for an updated budget chart with line-by-line comparisons since FY10.
 
Natural Disaster Tax Relief. The National Disaster Tax Relief Act of 2014, S.2233, was recently introduced in the Senate. In addition to providing tax relief for the communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy, this bill would also provide relief to all of the communities impacted by federally declared disasters in 2012 and 2013, as well as Hurricane Irene from 2011. New Hampshire is one of 22 states included in the bill, and would qualify for a one-time additional LIHTC allocation for Carroll and Grafton Counties of $1.45 million. Senator Shaheen has co-sponsored the legislation.

 

STATE 

Regulatory Improvements. SB 387, which streamlines practices of the Land Sales Full Disclosure Act, and broadens some exemptions to reduce development costs, is on its way to becoming law, slated to take effect 60 days after passage. SB 393, proposing changes to RSA 204-C to improve opportunities for developer investments in affordable housing and the Surplus Lands Housing Program, was amended in the House to allow the Low and Moderate Income Housing Loan Program to be used for rehab. Due to the aging housing stock and the changing demographics of NH, rehab resources are sorely needed. The Senate requested a Committee of Conference on SB 393, which will meet May 27. Please watch Housing Action NH’s website, Twitter feed or Facebook page for updates on this and other pending legislation.
 
Fair Housing. HB 1409, a bill that would finally end discriminatory rental practices against voucher holders and victims of domestic violence, was amended in the Senate to create a Study Commission to explore the issue. A Committee of Conference has been appointed.
 
Landlord-Tenant Policies. Work to re-establish the fine associated with failure to register with municipal landlord registries gained some ground via passage of SB 347. This bill allows municipalities to impose a fine of up to $100 for failure to register. HB 1214, a repeat attempt to add simple expiration of lease to the list of “good causes” for eviction, was killed this session in the House.
 
Housing Study Commission. The May 5 meeting of the Commission explored the resource challenges in NH to building housing for very low- and extremely low-income households. Watch the video here. The next Commission meeting is scheduled for June 16 at 10:30 am. Updates and info can be found at the Commission site.
 
Minimum Wage. HB 1403, which would have reinstated a state minimum wage and increased it to $9 an hour followed by COLA adjustments, was killed by the Senate 13-11 along party lines. Housing Action NH testified before the Senate Finance Committee about the lack of housing stock available to workers in NH earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour, and worked with four Senators who took the “Minimum Wage Challenge” prior to the vote. Senators Watters, Soucy, Pierce and Fuller-Clark experienced the challenges NH residents face in securing housing on a minimum wage budget and recounted on the Senate floor the anxiety they felt, knowing they’d have to work 111 hours (2.8 full-time jobs) to afford rent and all other necessities.
 
Olmstead Settlement. HB 1635, a bill that would appropriate $517,458 for State Fiscal Year ‘14, and $8,549,419 for State Fiscal Year ‘15 for DHHS to support rental subsidies and supports for tenants with severe mental illness as part of the Olmstead settlement, has been amended by the Senate to require Joint Fiscal oversight and to prohibit litigation-related expenditures. Senators also tacked on an unrelated provision, requiring 10 percent of any settlements exceeding $1 million received by the Department of Justice go to the state’s “rainy day” fund. A Committee of Conference has been appointed.
 
Workforce Housing. Earlier this session, HB 1297, a proposal to require towns to receive approval by a local legislative body before accepting “workforce housing grants,” was swiftly killed in the House. Advocates’ work early on paid off in a unanimous Inexpedient to Legislate recommendation by the House Committee on Municipal and County Government. The advocacy to defend NH’s workforce housing law included the voices of the Business and Industry Association, the NH Home Builders and Remodelers Association and several regional workforce housing coalitions.
 
Looking ahead to 2015, the preliminary filing period for incumbents to file new legislation for 2015 is September 15-26. We’ll remain vigilant for signs of this perennial attack on the law.  


NEWS

Housing Action NH Founder to Retire
Mike LaFontaine, director of the Community Housing Program of the NH Community Loan Fund, has announced his upcoming retirement. “It has been as close to an ideal working life as anyone could hope to have… I’m particularly proud of what we have all accomplished through Housing Action NH,” said Mike upon announcing his retirement. In addition to launching Housing Action NH, Mike was also a key leader in the convening of the NH Growth and Development Roundtable. He will be missed.
 
2014 Point in Time Count (PIT) Released
The Department of Health & Human Services released its annual count of individuals and families who were homeless on a single January day in NH. The report showed a 14% decrease in the overall number of individuals experiencing homelessness from last year, from 2,576 to 2,210.
 
Of that number reported 1,241 were sheltered (nearly the same as 2013); 394 were unsheltered (down 11% from 2013); 575 individuals were temporarily doubled up (temporarily residing with family or friend, a 35% decrease from 2013); 358 were families (which is a 14% decrease of families that were homeless in 2013). Also, of the 1,664 adults surveyed, 39% (642) self-reported a severe and persistent mental illness, 33% (555) reported having a substance abuse issue, 13% (209) were veterans, and 33% (544) were chronically homeless.
 
As this year’s PIT count shows, public policies on housing and homelessness and funding for services have a direct affect on housing affordability and homelessness.
 
Although we celebrate a report showing a decrease in homelessness and recognize the hard work of providers and advocates, it’s also important to remember that PIT is one marker of many as we try to determine the true extent of the problem.
 
There are also an estimated 35,000 households in NH with severe rent burdens (paying more than 50% of their monthly income) who face an ongoing threat of homelessness.
 
New Resource Available
The National Center on Family Homelessness has published a new guide for transitional housing providers called Closing the Gap: Integrating Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence Experiencing Homelessness - A Toolkit for Transitional Housing Programs.

 


FUNDING NOTICES

Emergency Solutions Grant. Deadline: June 17. For services to prevent and reduce homelessness. More information at NH DHHS website
 
Rural Development Community Facilities Loans and Grants. Deadline: Rolling. Multiple programs available. More details at USDA website.

 


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.
 
HOUSING ACTION NH MEMBERS: AHEAD, Inc., Avesta Housing, Anagnost Companies, American Friends Service Committee, Belknap-Merrimack Community Action Program, Elizabeth Blanchard, CATCH Neighborhood Housing, Citizens Housing and Planning Association, Centrix Bank, Kelli Magowan Cicirelli, Cross Roads House, Dakota Partners, Inc., Attorney John Deachman, Dover Housing Authority, Eastern Lakes Region Housing Coalition, Every Child Matters in NH, Fellowship Housing Opportunities, Inc., Families in Transition, Family Connections Resource Center, The Friends Program, The Front Door Agency, Granite State Independent Living, Granite State Organizing Project, Great Bridge Properties, Greater Nashua Mental Health Center, Greater Nashua Workforce Housing Coalition, Harbor Homes, Inc., The Hartland Group, Home Builders and Remodelers Association of NH, Homeless Shelter for Strafford County, Housing Initiatives of New England, The Housing Partnership, Keene Housing Authority, Laconia Area Community Land Trust, Laconia Housing Authority, Kimberly Lasser, League of Women Voters NH, Lutheran Social Services, Manchester Housing Authority, Ignatius MacLellan, Marguerite’s Place, My Friend’s Place, Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire, Nesseralla & Company, NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, NH Coalition to End Homelessness, NH Community Development Finance Authority, NH Community Loan Fund, NH Council of Churches, New Hampshire Housing, NH Legal Assistance, Northern New England Housing Investment Fund, Portsmouth Housing Authority, The Salvation Army – Portsmouth Post, Seacoast Family Promise,  Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green PA, Maria Sillari, Consultant, Society of St. Vincent de Paul Exeter, Southern NH Services, Southwestern Community Services, Stewart Property Management, Barbara Thorngren, Twin Pines Housing Trust, United Valley Interfaith Project, The Way Home, Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast, Working Families Win NH

 

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