Emergency rental assistance program has helped thousands of Granite Staters

With funding set to expire in 2025, demand for help is on the rise

Nherap Graphic CmykNew Hampshire’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program has provided more than $230 million statewide since it began in March 2021, according to state figures.

More than 22,900 users of the program have received assistance with rent as well as utility and home energy costs. The program is aimed at allowing people to stay in their homes.

But there are no easy answers to what will happen when the funding runs out, said Beth Daniels, CEO at Southwestern Community Services, which implements the program for Cheshire and Sullivan counties.

“It’s a fair and reasonable question to say, ‘At the end of the day an awful lot of money is going out, and at what point are we going to see sequestration or budget cuts or belt-tightening?’” Daniels said.

The Emergency Rental Assistance Program is funded by the U.S. Treasury Department with $25 billion from the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act to expire at the end of this year, and another $21.5 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act, which has an expenditure deadline of Sept. 20, 2025.

Demand for this type of assistance has jumped over the past two years during the Covid-19 pandemic, Daniels said.

“I’ve never seen so much need, paired with anxiety,” she said.

Meanwhile, apartment vacancy rates have dropped below 1 percent locally and statewide, which means that if someone loses their housing, it could be very hard to find a replacement.

NH Housing helps administer the program.

“We continue to monitor expenditures for the program closely, and will communicate with stakeholders and the public as the program approaches its end,” said Grace Lessner, a spokeswoman for that organization.

Households may receive assistance for up to 12 months under the program, with payments provided directly to their landlord or utility provider.

Among the qualifications is that the household must be at risk for homelessness. This can be shown, for example, by past due rent or eviction notices or the need to spend more than 30 percent of income on rent and utilities.

This article is being shared by partners in the Granite State News Collaborative. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

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