New Hampshire gets $24M for affordable housing

May 15, 2022

New Hampshire is getting nearly $24 million from the federal government to help expand affordable housing options for vulnerable populations.

The funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be used to address a wide range of housing insecurity needs for low- and middle-income families as well as individuals experiencing homelessness or recovering from substance misuse during the pandemic.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, who pushed for the funding, said skyrocketing housing prices and dwindling stock of affordable housing units are among the top complaints her office fields from constituents.

"Expanding access to quality housing has been particularly critical during the pandemic, which severely exacerbated housing insecurity across the state," Shaheen said. "Housing needs are especially dire for Granite Staters struggling with other crises, like homelessness or substance misuse, which have been surging across the state and nation."

More than $12 million of the funding will be provided through Community Development Block Grants to help local governments expand the amount of multifamily housing.

The other half of the funding will be divided between state programs that provide grants to low- and middle-income families and finding housing for the state's homeless population.

Other members of the state's congressional delegation also welcomed the federal funding, which they said will help fill gaps in the affordable housing crunch.

"COVID-19 exacerbated the affordable housing crisis in our state and disproportionately affected our more vulnerable populations, including low-income individuals and those suffering from addiction," Rep. Chris Pappas, D-NH, said in a statement. "These grants are being delivered at a critical time as communities recover from the pandemic."

Granite State housing costs are continuing to skyrocket with the median price of a single-family home jumping to $440,000 in March, according to the latest report from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors. The median price for townhome and condo units was $350,500 last month, a 31% increase from March 2021, the association said.

In 2020, the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority estimated that the state needs to build at least 20,000 more housing units to meet current demand.

The New Hampshire Council on Housing Stability, a panel created by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, is pushing for the construction of 13,500 new residential units within three years.

Two weeks ago, Sununu won final approval for a $100 million InvestNH plan to boost the amount of affordable housing by providing grants to local governments, developers and property owners to build new homes and rental properties.

The proposal calls for creating a $60 million matching grant program for developers to assist with the cost of building new multifamily housing projects. Another $30 million will go to cities and towns to accelerate approvals of rental housing projects. Local governments would also have access to $10 million in grant funding to help them update residential zoning laws.

Some groups have pointed out that New Hampshire has some of the most restrictive residential development rules in the country, which has contributed to the shortage of housing.

By:  Christian Wade
Source: Laconia Daily Sun