A blanket refusal to accept housing choice voucher holders would be unlawful

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THE SOAPBOX

Stand up. Speak up. It’s Your Turn.


The hearing for HB1291, prohibiting discrimination against tenants holding certain vouchers for purposes of renting dwellings, will be held on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at 1 p.m. in the House Judiciary Committee, Room 206-208. If you want to send a support letter, mail it to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Ned Gordon at Ned.Gordon@leg.state.nh.us with a copy to the who committee at HouseJuduciaryCommittee@leg.state.nh.us.

If you would like to sign in to support the bill, you can do it here


Under HB1291 a blanket refusal to accept housing choice voucher holders would be unlawful. This would undeniably have a positive impact on the lives of the thousands of New Hampshire citizens who experience disabilities. 

The Housing Choice Voucher Program is the largest housing assistance program in the nation for low-income tenants. The demand for these vouchers is so high that most applicants must wait at least 5 years to get one. Even after years of waiting to get a voucher, many tenants lose them because they can’t find a landlord who will accept them within the mandated 90–120-day time frame. In the city of Manchester, there are currently over 100 voucher holders, many with families, who are unable to find housing. 

In the statewide program, which is operated by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, 66 percent of the assisted households are headed by a person with disabilities. This vulnerable population already has difficulty finding accessible accommodations, due to lack of truly accessible housing. 

Why can’t tenants use their vouchers? The simple answer is because many landlords simply refuse to accept them. Unlike all other New England states, this blatant outdated, discriminatory practice is still legal in New Hampshire. HB1291 would change that. It would bring New Hampshire in line with the states around it, banning discriminatory practices and ensuring housing stability for those who are at the highest risk for homelessness.

It seems like common sense that landlords should not be permitted to deny low-income families desperately needed housing, which thanks to the section 8 program, is within their reach. The state should not support the idea that landlords can deny people housing simply because they do not want to rent to “those people”. 

How does the Housing Choice Voucher Program work?

  • The program is funded by Housing and Urban Development through local housing authorities.
  • The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority operates the New Hampshire program.
  • Under the program, tenants find their own apartments.
  • Tenants are responsible for paying approximately 30 percent of their income as their share of rent. 
  • The NH Housing Finance Authority uses the HUD funds to pay the rest.

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About this Author

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Vanessa Blais

Project ManagerNH Council on Developmental Disabilities

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