2024 Legislative Round-Up for Housing 

STATE

Abutter Definition

HB 1359, a bill sponsored by Chairman Len Turcotte to clarify the definition of an abutter, was recently signed by Governor Sununu. Aimed at curbing the abuse of judicial delay tactics that halts housing development from non-impacted parties, the bill had the support of the NH Municipal Association, the Business and Industry Association, NH Association of Realtors, the NH Planners Association, and Housing Action NH.

HOMEnibus and Parking

HB 1400. Housing advocates are urging the Governor to sign HB 1400 in order to provide much needed tax incentives and regulatory relief to encourage affordable housing development. The final bill, resulting from a Committee of Conference chaired by Representative Joe Alexander, combined parking proposals and the HOMEnibus bill (formerly SB 538, sponsored by Senator Rebecca Perkins Kwoka). The package expands the Community Revitalization Tax Incentive for conversions of commercial properties to residential, enables efficient passage of zoning changes, and limits local parking mandates to reasonable standards and parking alternatives. 

Homeless Services/Housing Stability

Homeless Services Funding. A special appropriation of $2.5 million for current homeless services contracts was approved through a vote of the Joint Fiscal Committee as well as through SB 406, sponsored by Senator Donovan Fenton. The funding will help sustain homeless services for this fiscal year.

Good Cause Eviction. Housing Action NH joined NH Legal Assistance in supporting the defeat of HB 1115 and subsequent efforts to reattach the proposal to other bills. The proposal from Chairman Bob Lynn would erode good cause eviction tenant protection by concluding tenancies at the end of a lease.

Missing Middle

Accessory Dwelling Units/Duplexes. Bills dedicated to expanding property owner rights to attach accessory dwelling units (HB 1291) or convert to duplexes (HB 1399), failed to advance in the Senate. Both bills faced opposition from municipal leaders through the NH Municipal Association. 

Sprinkler Requirements

The House and Senate did pass HB 1065 that would exempt new and existing residential buildings with four or fewer units for sprinkler requirements. This cost savings will encourage homeowners to consider missing middle options. The bill would also prohibit municipalities from implementing more stringent ordinances and regulations that would require the installation of fire suppression systems. Building and fire safety officials supported the proposals.

Manufactured Housing

Manufactured Housing Expansion. Governor Sununu has signed HB 1361, sponsored by Representative Joe Alexander.  This important new law requires municipalities that adopt land use control measures to provide reasonable and realistic opportunities for the siting of manufactured housing on individual lots and in manufactured housing parks and subdivisions within residential districts. The bill also directs municipalities to provide reasonable and realistic opportunities for expansion of existing manufactured housing parks.

Driveway Permitting Timelines.

HB 1202. The legislature also passed HB 1202 that includes provisions to improve permitting timelines for driveways for residential properties from the Department of Transportation. The proposal is an important win for the House Special Committee on Housing, which identified state agency permitting as a bottleneck slowing the development of housing. 


FEDERAL

Criminalization of Homelessness. Homeless advocates around the country have decried the recent US Supreme Court decision in the City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, that allows jurisdictions to arrest and ticket unhoused people for sleeping outside, even when adequate shelter or housing is not available. Specifically, the Supreme Court determined that the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment did not prohibit the City of Grants Pass from enforcing criminal punishments against people who are homeless for outside camping in the city.

“These ineffective and inhumane tactics exacerbate homelessness by saddling unhoused people with debt they can’t pay, while further isolating them from the services and support they need to become stably housed,” said National Low Income Housing Coalition’s CEO Diane Yentel in a statement. “To truly address and solve homelessness, policymakers must instead work with urgency to scale up proven solutions, starting with greater investments in affordable housing and supportive services.”

In New Hampshire, the city of Manchester’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted to strengthen a ban on camping on city property, subjecting people to fines. And the board removed an exception that had allowed camping during evening hours if there were not enough shelter beds available.

However, the ACLU, NH Legal Assistance, and other New Hampshire civil rights groups say there are still avenues to stop those actions in state law and they are urging NH municipalities to move cautiously and humanely.

“We continue to warn New Hampshire officials and law enforcement that efforts to criminalize the unhoused may still violate the New Hampshire Constitution – and we’ll be watching,” Henry Klementowicz, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire shared with New Hampshire Bulletin.


IN THE NEWS

Housing Top Issue for NH Voters – and candidates too.

Making Minimum Wage? In New England, you can only afford to live in these ZIP codes. 

1 in 4 homes for sale in NH cost at least $1 million.


EVENTS

Housing Opportunity Planning Grants. Plan NH is hosting a webinar on July 24 from 12 pm to 1 pm to share information regarding InvestNH’s HOP grant program. The session is for potential applicants and will cover the program overview, application process, and deadline. Q&A will follow. To register, click here.

Resident-Owned Communities Bus Tour. The NH Community Loan Fund, the NH Planners Association, and the NH Assoc. of Realtors are hosting a bus tour of resident-owned communities on the Seacoast on August 1, 9:00 to 12:30 pm. To register, click here.