Federal funds approved to extend emergency hotel stays

Monitor staff
Published: 11/26/2022 10:56:45 AM
Modified: 11/26/2022 10:54:20 AM

Rooms booked in Concord’s hotels this year signal a return to tourism in the Granite State with visitors looking to see the state’s capital.

But room reservations also shed light on the current affordable housing crisis in the city.

Since the early days of the pandemic, federal relief dollars have been spent to house people in hotels throughout winter months.

Emergency rental assistance dollars – which has totaled $260 million since March 2021 – has helped almost 25,000 New Hampshire households.

Now assistance will continue through the new year, with the Executive Council approving $20 million to continue to fund hotel stays with money from the American Rescue Plan.

This funding comes on the heels of uncertainty about the state of emergency rental assistance in New Hampshire.

Just last month, state leaders feared the program would have to abruptly wind down, after the U.S. Department of Treasury denied New Hampshire’s request for continued funding.

The initial request was for $67 million to continue the rental assistance program. After this was turned down, the congressional delegation secured a fraction of this money – with $2 million award to continue the program.

But currently the state spends $5 million a week to fund application requests, meaning the delegations supplement would have extended funds a mere few days beyond its December expiration date.

The Governor’s Office pointed blame toward leaders in Washington for the mismanagement of funds.

“While the congressional delegation takes a victory lap for 4 days of additional funding, I won’t let Washington off the hook while residents worry about how to make ends meet over the holidays,” wrote Sununu in a tweet earlier this month.

Now the state will provide funding to keep the program intact. Assistance will be available for hotel residents through April. For residents with children, support will continue through June.

The program extension was first approved by the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee last week. Executive Councilors cemented the funding in a unanimous vote Tuesday.

“This is an opportunity for us to take care of the people that are in the most needy situation as we go into the winter months, keep them in a housing situation,” said Taylor Caswell, the commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs, at the joint legislative committee meeting.

The funds will also provide a longer timeframe to help connect those residing in hotels with services provided through New Hampshire Housing and local Community Action Programs, to help them transition to more permanent housing, said Caswell.

It is unclear how many individuals this money will support. But the committee discussed that there are 7,500 families in need, according to Peter Lieshman, a state representative, who sits on the committee.

Currently, the state is spending up to $350 per night for these hotel rooms. With the newly allocated funds, Caswell hopes to set a cap of $200 a night per room, but knows that these price points could differ throughout the state.

“We might see in the upper in the Mount Washington Valley for instance where the cost of a hotel room during February vacation week is a higher amount and we don’t want to put anyone in the position of going in and out of a housing situation,” he said. “So we’re going to build in an ability to have some flexibility.”


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