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Valley News – $2M sliver of funding secured after NH’s emergency rental assistance requests denied 

Published: 11/15/2022 9:57:01 PM

Modified: 11/15/2022 9:57:06 PM

After an announcement last month that Emergency Rental Assistance Funds would come to an abrupt end in New Hampshire, the state’s congressional delegation has secured a supplemental $2 million to extend the program.

Through the American Rescue Plan, emergency rental assistance has helped almost 25,000 households across the state with rental and utility costs. Through the beginning of November, $255 million was spent doing so.

Yet state leaders were surprised when the U.S. Treasury announced at the end of October that in its second round of funding, New Hampshire would not receive additional funding. This summer, the state requested $67 million to continue the program.

“After waiting several months, we learned that without notice or explanation, additional Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) funds for New Hampshire have been rejected while 28 other states around the country have been given the resources for their program to continue,” Gov. Chris Sununu stated in an October news release. “With skyrocketing inflation, cold weather and the holiday season, this is the absolute worst time for the federal government to take this step.”

The denied request meant a temporary pause in the highly successful program, with an impending cold and expensive winter looming.

Applications for emergency rental assistance closed on Oct. 21, and the state is still not accepting new requests.

The rental assistance program is funded through the end of December, but the $67 million would have extended it into the new year.

Now, a fraction of that request has been obtained through the congressional delegation. The $2 million may only extend the program into the first few weeks of January.

Albeit not the sum the state first asked for, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen still praised the U.S. Treasury for providing a small solution.

“This latest allocation can help bridge the gap and allow New Hampshire households to access assistance, but more resources will be needed to meet the demand,” said Shaheen.

Yet, both the governor’s office and the congressional delegation have pointed fingers assigning blame for the evaporating funds.

“While the congressional delegation takes a victory lap for four 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.

Meanwhile, Shaheen, who led the delegation in securing the additional funding, alluded to a mismanagement from the state’s side.

“This additional rental assistance will help support Granite Staters who rely on this program, despite the unnecessary hurdles created by the State’s mismanagement of the program,” she said in a news release.

The decrease in funding means the program will ultimately wind down in New Hampshire.

In the absence of emergency funding, Community Action Programs throughout the state are continuing to provide fuel assistance. This assistance is for those who make up to 60% of the area median income.

The state also announced additional fuel assistance for middle-tier earners — those who make 60 to 75% of the median income. Those who qualify could see up to $650 in assistance this winter. These funds are also administered through local community action agencies.

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