CONCORD, NH — New Hampshire’s emergency housing fund is about to end abruptly, after state officials learned this week that a request for funding was denied by the U.S. Treasury.
That means that no new applications will be accepted for assistance effective today, and the program is slated to close here as of Dec. 29.
“After waiting several months, we learned that without notice or explanation, additional Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds for New Hampshire have been rejected while 28 other states around the country have been given the resources for their program to continue,” Governor Chris Sununu said Thursday. “With skyrocketing inflation, cold weather and the holiday season, this is the absolute worst time for the federal government to take this step.”
The state found out via an unannounced list on the U.S Treasury’s website. Unlike several other states, New Hampshire will not receive the additional $67 million in ERA2 funding it had requested this past Summer. In response, Sununu sent this letter to the New Hampshire congressional delegation asking them to work directly with the U.S. Treasury to urge them to reconsider their decision to end the ERA program early in New Hampshire.
“I ask that you work directly with U.S. Treasury and urge them to reconsider their decision to end the ERA program early in New Hampshire, while confirming New Hampshire’s reallocation of our ERA 1 funding. Please stand up and right this wrong for our state,” concluded Governor Sununu.
On Friday New Hampshire Housing announced a pause to incoming applications under the NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NHERAP), effective immediately. No new applications will be accepted, pending a review of the existing pipeline of applications, the level of federal funding available, and the status of existing State requests to U.S. Treasury for additional funding, a spokesperson for the organization said.
Support services will continue to be available through the five Community Action Partnership (CAP) agencies, and all applications in the pipeline will be reviewed and funded (pending eligibility). For updates about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program go to the program page.
On Friday Elissa Margolin, director of Housing Action New Hampshire, released the following statement regarding the funding.
“We feel that it’s incumbent on us to sound the alarm regarding a likely uptick in evictions, lack of payments to landlords, and homelessness. We urge the US Treasury to reconsider New Hampshire’s request and we urge the Governor and the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee to approve other federal or state funds as soon as possible to help transition the most vulnerable families to a more stable housing situation. We are particularly concerned about the over 700 families, including families with children, who are currently living in hotels funded by this program. Now is the time for leaders to come together to identify a solution to this precarious situation.”
Also weighing in was Todd Marsh, President of the NH Local Welfare Administration Association, with the following statement:
“I am confident that municipal welfare will respond to this current challenge by mastering our moment and continuing to meet our legal obligations and the humanitarian intent of those obligations, professionally, collaboratively, innovatively and to the very best of our abilities.”
States and localities across the country have been funding emergency rental assistance since 2021 with resources provided by the U.S. Treasury under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This COVID-19 relief program has kept people housed who have been impacted economically by the pandemic. Without additional reallocated funds or further Congressional authorization, those states and localities will no longer have resources available under this program.
NH Housing and the CAP agencies around the state have been administering NHERAP since March 2021 and provided over $230 million in assistance to over 23,000 households in all 10 counties.
Jessica Margeson, Tenant Organizer for Granite State Organizing Project, said her phone began ringing off the hook Friday from people worried about what will happen to them.
“People – particularly those living in hotels – have been calling and asking what does this mean for me. They’re worried about their immediate future,” Margeson said. “We think those already in the program will be safe for at least a few more months. What we don’t want is for people to panic. We’ll have more information for them just as soon as we can.”
She said anyone with questions or concerns is welcome to attend her weekly Tenant Clinic, held every Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. at 1045 Elm St., Suite 201 (above Margarita’s Restaurant). There is also a Granite State Tenants Association meeting held the second Saturday of each month. For more information on that and location, contact Margeson at 603-333-7922.
For those who are homeless or at risk for homelessness, please contact 2-1-1. For assistance with an eviction, contact 603 Legal Aid, which provides free civil legal services to low-income people at (603) 224-3333.