NH Delegation Applauds $1 Million Awarded through NBRC to Northern Forest Center
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01), a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, issued the following statements in response to the Northern Border Regional Commission’s (NBRC) announcement that the Northern Forest Center will receive $1 million in federal funding from the organization to launch efforts to help improve the availability of high-quality workforce housing in a northern community located in each state of the NBRC’s territory. In New Hampshire, Lancaster has been selected as the focal community under this effort. The NBRC provides federal support throughout northern New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York and has funded grants that spur economic and community development in rural communities.
“The lack of affordable housing in New Hampshire is a serious, ongoing challenge that has put maintaining a roof over their heads out of reach for too many of New Hampshire’s working families. This crisis was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and has been particularly problematic in the North Country.” said Senator Shaheen. “This funding will be put to good use to help address the affordable housing shortage in the region to give our working families a leg up when they need it most. Ensuring that all Granite Staters have access to safe and affordable housing is crucial to the well-being of our communities and New Hampshire’s economic growth and will continue to be one of my top priorities in the new session of Congress.”
“Our forests play a critical role in driving the Granite State economy, with thousands of jobs connected to them through manufacturing, tourism, and environmental protection,” said Senator Hassan. “But housing shortages can limit job growth and economic vitality, which is why this workforce housing funding is so important. I am pleased that the Northern Forest Center has been awarded this significant grant through the Northern Border Regional Commission, and I will keep fighting alongside our Congressional Delegation to protect vital funding for the NBRC.”
“The Northern Forest Center does incredibly important work to spur economic growth and job creation in rural New Hampshire communities,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “This funding will help the Center ensure there is adequate affordable housing in North Country communities, which is key to the economic viability of the region. I’m pleased to join my colleagues to announce this award, and I will continue working to ensure Granite Staters have the support and resources they need to succeed and thrive.”
“New Hampshire continues to grapple with a lack of access to safe, affordable housing throughout our communities – including in the North Country,” said Congressman Pappas. “COVID-19 and the economic crisis have put even more Granite Staters are at risk of losing their homes or unable to find suitable housing through no fault of their own. These grant funds could not be arriving at a more critical time to help ensure that New Hampshire’s workforce can weather this storm with a roof over their heads.”
Senator Shaheen, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has led efforts in Congress that support and invest in the NBRC. In the government funding legislation signed into law in December, Shaheen and Hassan helped secure $30 million for the NBRC, which is a $5 million increase above the FY2020 funding level and the highest the program has ever been funded. That legislation also included a Shaheen and Hassan priority of eliminating the non-federal match requirement on FY2020 NBRC awards and future awards related to COVID-19 recovery, reducing potential hurdles to increased participation among eligible communities. President Trump’s budget proposal sought to eliminate the program entirely. Shaheen’s bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and expand the NBRC’s reach was included in the Farm Bill that was signed into law in 2018. With support from Rep. Kuster, the legislation expanded the NBRC to include Cheshire County and communities in Belknap County. Shaheen has also worked to included language to ensure portions of NBRC funds be directed to assist rural communities affected by past mill closures, as well as support new markets and the infrastructure needs of the forest products industry. Last August, the delegation announced that New Hampshire agencies and organizations were awarded $4,443,428 by the NBRC. This was followed by the award of $467,410 from the NBRC and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to support the state’s outdoor recreation and forest economies. Last year, Shaheen led a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers representing New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and New York in a letter to congressional leadership calling for the inclusion of dedicated funding for the NBRC in COVID-19 relief legislation.