Community Toolbox Bill. A legislative package that includes policy recommendations from Governor Sununu’s 2019 Housing Task Force has been introduced in the Senate. Senate Bill 400, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bradley and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 12 Senators, provides incentives and directives intended to address the housing shortage, including opt-in tools for municipalities that are ready to address supply shortages; improvements to the project proposal process, such as faster timelines, and more transparency and documentation; and expanded education and training opportunities (voluntary) for planning and zoning board members.
The hearing before the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee on January 20 included a long list of supporters, including the NH Association of Realtors, the NH Homebuilders Association, and 64 “sign-ins” supporting the legislation. The bill awaits a vote from the Committee before consideration by the full Senate.
Homeless Shelter Services Rates. Senate Bill 415, sponsored by Senator Kahn, proposes making an appropriation of $9 million per year for the fiscal year 2022 and 2023, for a total of $18 million, to increase reimbursement rates to $20 per person per night. The current reimbursement is $8.20 per night. The estimated cost per bed night for shelter services is $47.00.
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill on January 25 where the NH Department of Health and Human Services endorsed the proposal and noted that it would allow its Bureau of Housing Supports to expand contracting to address in the increase in homelessness. Families in Transition and Cross Roads House provided testimony supporting an increased reimbursement rate.
Housing Appeals Board. The Housing Appeals Board was established on July 1, 2020, through RSA 679. The Board provides an alternative to Superior Court for housing-related appeals. Three bills in the House propose to repeal or alter the Board. HB 1216, which proposes full repeal of the newly established Board, met strong opposition by testifiers, including the Business and Industry Association, before House Judiciary on January 12.
HB 1307, a bill that proposes to restrict the jurisdiction of the newly established Board, has a hearing before the House Municipal and County Government Committee on February 7 at 11:30 am. Housing Action NH opposes the legislation.
Voucher Holders. House Bill 1291 would prohibit discrimination against those renters with housing vouchers. The bill, proposed by Representative Kenney, was heard by House Judiciary on January 19, with an executive session scheduled for February 3 at 9 am. Housing Action NH supports the bill.
Resident Owned Communities. Senate Bill 210, scheduled for a hearing before Senate Commerce on February 8 at 9:15 am, would create an unreachable standard to initiate resident-owned communities within manufactured home parks. Housing Action NH opposes the legislation. See the action alert released by the NH Community Loan Fund and this blog postfrom the Loan Fund’s CEO, Steve Salzman.
Notice Bills. Two bills, one in the House and another in the Senate, would extend the notice requirement from landlords. House Bill 1200, sponsored by Representative Conley, would extend notice of rent increases by an extra 15 days to 45 days. SB 217, introduced by Senator Perkins Kwoka and supported by the Senate Commerce Committee with a 5-0 ought to pass recommendation, would increase the notice requirement to 60 days in cases of relocation due to substantial repair, renovations, or sale of the property. Housing Action NH supports both bills.
Inventory of Unused Properties. Senate Bill 359, introduced by Senator Perkins Kwoka, would require the NH Department of Administrative Services to conduct an inventory of all property owned by the state of New Hampshire. Housing advocates demonstrated strong support for the bill at the January 13 hearing before the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee.
Housing Study Commission. Senator Perkins Kwoka’s bill, SB 329, has received an ought to pass recommendation from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee in a 4-0 vote. The bill would establish a commission to study barriers to housing development in New Hampshire, including workforce and middle-income housing. Housing Action NH supports the legislation.
Planning and Zoning Bills. HB 1177, a bill introduced by Representative Vann that would require that local legislative bodies permit up to 4 residential units in certain single-family lots, has a hearing before the House Municipal and County Government Committee (MCG) on February 7 at 9 am. HB 1179, a bill from Representative Yokela that proposes an exception to the majority vote requirement for local zoning protest petitions related to reducing dimensional requirements, has a hearing before the same Committee on February 3 at 10 am. Finally, Representative Yokela has also introduced HB 1136 that would require localities to list studies necessary to render a decision and would not allow repetitive studies. HB 1136’s hearing before House MCG is on February 3 at 9 am.
ARPA/ SLFRF for Housing Development. In a recent letter, Housing Action NH urged Governor Chris Sununu to allocate $100 million of ARPA’s State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funding (SLFRF) towards affordable housing development through the state’s Affordable Housing Fund. The release of SLFRF’s final rule makes clear that these resources can be used for more affordable housing development. The letter also notes the major housing investments of all the other New England states.