This housing plan recognizes that affordable and workforce housing is the foundation for success for our businesses, our workers and families, and our future. It’s the first-ever housing plan released by a candidate for governor.
Right out of law school, and up until serving in the State Senate, Dan had the honor and privilege of serving as a legal aid attorney with New Hampshire Legal Assistance for about a decade. There, Dan represented thousands of folks, including during the Great Recession, the last economic crisis, helping Granite Staters get access to health care, accessing unemployment insurance for those who were crushed by job loss, combatting housing discrimination, advancing affordable and workforce housing, and representing people facing foreclosure from big Wall Street banks.
For four years, Dan managed the Housing Justice Project at New Hampshire Legal Assistance, managing and overseeing the housing staff and budget, casework, public trainings and outreach, and advocacy for fair housing, civil rights, and workforce and affordable housing. Part of that work included managing New Hampshire’s fair housing grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as conducting and co-authoring the statewide “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice in New Hampshire”. In the State Senate, Dan continued the effort to advance affordable and workforce housing, including advancing accessory dwelling units, the first-ever recovery housing appropriation, and the first-ever annual appropriation to the affordable and workforce housing fund. Dan has been recognized for his bipartisan leadership on housing from the Home Builders and Remodelers Association and from Housing Action NH, among others.
Even before COVID-19, New Hampshire was facing a housing crisis. With vacancy rates well below 2%, some cities having 0% vacancy, and a national average of about 5% vacancy, people could not find places to live, and, if they did, prices were through the roof. It put New Hampshire at an economic and competitive disadvantage in the region, and the housing and homelessness challenges we face have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. The advancement of affordable and workforce housing means less homelessness, less spending on health care and social services through housing stabilization and housing first, new jobs in construction and modification of housing, and places to live for workers who can meet business’s needs throughout New Hampshire.
Recently, housing and homelessness services, including rapid re-housing services, were unilaterally cut by Chris Sununu. Chris Sununu vetoed common sense homeowner and renter protections (House Bill 1247, 2020), and now hundreds of Granite State homeowners are losing their homes to Wall Street banks. Chris Sununu vetoed legislation (Senate Bill 5, 2019) to help with addiction treatment services and transitional housing, including in Manchester. And Chris Sununu has trickled out only a couple of million in housing relief for renters and small landlords in COVID, an initiative Dan first proposed in the form of a Housing Recovery Fund immediately at the outset of this pandemic. Just like Trump, Sununu refuses to release his tax returns and he gave his family businesses in Waterville Valley and surrounding properties a tax break, while hardworking Granite Staters are struggling to pay their mortgage and pay their property taxes. Sununu has said he wants to go back to 2019 spending levels in the state budget, which would cut community support by over $200 million and increase property taxes, making it even more expensive to live here in New Hampshire.
Housing is a basic right and New Hampshire should guarantee affordable housing options to all Granite Staters. This comprehensive housing plan will expand access to affordable options, create jobs, attract and retain the next generation of Granite Staters, and help us get out of this crisis in a way that looks out for everyone.
Key Policy Steps in Dan’s Housing Plan for New Hampshire:
- To protect property taxpayers, maintain state budget commitments using CAREs Act funds, and refuse to backpedal to 2019 spending levels, as proposed by Chris Sununu;
- Stabilize and backfill Chris Sununu’s cut to housing and homelessness services ($1.7 million; see p. 3 http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/lba/Budget/FiscalItems/2020-04-10_Agenda_Items/FIS_20-065.pdf);
- Mobilize a real Housing Recovery Fund with $40 million in CAREs Act funds, that cuts Sununu’s red tape for renters and landlords, prioritizing help for small landlords;
- Use $10 million in CAREs Act funds to immediately capitalize the affordable and workforce housing fund (RSA 204-C:57) of New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, with priority given to hardest-hit areas of the state;
- Increase from $5 million to $10 the annual capitalization of the affordable and workforce housing fund. Use at least $1 million, beginning in the second year of the biennium, to help develop workforce housing along the commuter rail line;
- Unlock housing supply capacity by addressing unreasonable impact fees as well as unreasonable density limitations;
- Similar to vetoed legislation (HB 1247), require Wall Street banks work in good faith before and during the foreclosure process to protect Granite State homeowners and give them a shot at saving their homes;
- Create of 250 state-level Section 8 housing choice vouchers administered by New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority for persons homeless or experiencing homelessness within the last year;
- Create 100 state-level Section 8 housing choice vouchers administered by New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority for veterans, similar to the VASH program, building off of bipartisan legislation championed by Sen. Jon Morgan;
- Develop a tax credit on the Business Profits Tax to incentivize landlords to accept persons and families with Section 8 vouchers;
- Through collaborative work with stakeholders around the state, update the statewide homelessness plan;
- Entrust the Office of Racial Equity to review the Statewide Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice and any other data and information as necessary to identify and propose solutions to housing disparities;
- Similar to the “Opportunity to Compete” (SB 100, 2019) for jobs legislation, advance an “Opportunity to Compete” for housing legislation, which will help address the disproportionate negative impact on access to housing for persons and families of color;
- Ensure that the NH Commission for Human Rights meets and is certified as “substantially equivalent”, providing substantive rights, procedures, remedies, and judicial review provisions that are substantially equivalent to the Fair Housing Act;
- Reduce red-tape and enhance reimbursement rates for recovery and sober housing, consistent with previous bipartisan legislation led by Dan, enabling housing capacity within a critical component of the continuum of care for persons in recovery;
- Identify a point person from NH HHS for the continuum of care coordination in Manchester, consistent with a statewide approach, statewide planning and plans; and
- Continue to combat childhood lead poisoning in both paint and water, consistent with bipartisan legislation led by Dan, with an annual appropriation of $2 million per year.