The Soapbox: NH House again votes to make displacing disabled and aging people easier

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Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.

In 2005, the New Hampshire Supreme Court determined that holdover leases, the type being described in House Bill 1115, still protected tenants from eviction without cause. Overturning this decision would create significant hardship for renters with disabilities who are already at a severe disadvantage in finding safe, stable, and affordable housing. It would especially jeopardize access to stable housing, which is fundamental to the health and well-being of people with disabilities and their families.

Based in historical memory, there is very real concern that landlords will use this to easily disguise discrimination by being able to evict tenants to avoid requests for reasonable accommodations, tenants who become disabled during their tenancy, experience aging disabilities, or who are merely considered an inconvenience.

RSA 540:2, ll speaks to the careful balance of the landlord’s right to recover possession of his property for any legitimate reason with the tenants need for protection from arbitrary or ill-motivated eviction.

During the state’s historic housing crisis, it is more vital than ever that this law remain in place to increase opportunity for renters with disabilities to remain in their homes without constant fear of displacement. Adding to the number of ways in which Grante Staters can become housing insecure, will only further limit the housing opportunities for those who already under the best of circumstances are at a significant disadvantage.

Displacement shatters fundamental security, forcing children to leave the natural supports of schools, trusted teachers and mentors, friends, neighbors, and community institutions. Despite what proponents of this bill want to lead you to believe, removing this protection will likely throw many families into homelessness.

According to the National Council on Disability, Granite Staters living with disabilities face eviction at 2 to 3 times higher rate than those who are non-disabled. Eliminating good cause protections would greatly increase this eviction rate disparity.

Everyone is touched by disability, whether it be physical, developmental, or from the natural process of aging. When weighing the importance of protecting landlords’ right to their property, consider your loved one who will easily be removed from their home, the community that they are building their lives in, their access to work and school to find that they have nowhere to live.

Proponents of this bill want you to believe it is about contracts. That is far from the truth. This is about human beings who have a right to security and the ability to envision their futures without having to worry that they will have to start over again and again because they ask for a reasonable accommodation, have children with support needs, or acquire a disability.

During the state’s historic housing crisis, it is more important than ever to secure the rights of disabled people to maintain stable and safe housing.

HB1115 relative to the termination of tenancy at the expiration of the tenancy or lease term will be heard by the Senate after April 11.

Vanessa Blais is a Ward 4 Manchester Resident.

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About this Author

Vanessa Blais

Project ManagerNH Council on Developmental Disabilities