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Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster

Representing the 2nd District of New Hampshire

NH Congressional Delegation Urges Increased Support for Those Experiencing Homelessness in Next COVID-19 Relief Package

May 21, 2020
Press Release
In Letter to Congressional Leadership, Delegation Also Raises Importance of Supporting Renters to Keep Them in Their Homes

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) today called for additional funding in the next COVID-19 relief package to support those who are experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – homelessness. New Hampshire has received significant funding from the CARES Act that Congress passed into law to support New Hampshire’s homeless population and affordable housing for Granite Staters, but additional support is necessary as New Hampshire grapples with changing homelessness and housing needs.

 

“Ensuring that individuals experiencing homelessness have the resources that they need to practice social distancing and self-quarantine if needed is critical to mitigating the spread of the virus, both now and over the coming months,” wrote the NH Congressional Delegation. “New Hampshire’s homelessness services have been working to provide individuals experiencing homelessness with safe places to shelter, maintain personal hygiene, and receive supportive services, but we know that there is much more to do.”

 

The NH Congressional Delegation also raised the importance of supporting renters so that they can stay in their homes and called for the next COVID-19 relief package to include Senator Hassan’s Prevent Evictions Act. “The $4 billion allocation for Emergency Solutions Grants in the CARES Act will help provide some relief, through emergency assistance and eviction prevention activities such as landlord-tenant mediation,” wrote the NH Congressional Delegation. “Including the Prevent Evictions Act, which would provide additional grant funding to landlord-tenant mediation programs, in future stimulus legislation would also help tenants struggling to pay their rent reach fair outcomes with their landlords and remain in their homes.”

 

Following calls from Senator Hassan and colleagues, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), Federal Housing Finance Agency, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development recently partnered together to launch a new website to help renters and homeowners learn more about all the resources and assistance available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Read the NH Congressional Delegation’s letter here or below:

 

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Chairman Shelby, Vice Chairman Leahy, Speaker Pelosi, Leader McCarthy, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Member Granger:

 

We write to you regarding the urgent need for Congress to provide additional funding to assist individuals experiencing — or at risk of experiencing — homelessness, both in New Hampshire and around the country, as the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues.

 

Ensuring that individuals experiencing homelessness have the resources that they need to practice social distancing and self-quarantine if needed is critical to mitigating the spread of the virus, both now and over the coming months. New Hampshire’s homelessness services have been working to provide individuals experiencing homelessness with safe places to shelter, maintain personal hygiene, and receive supportive services, but we know that there is much more to do.

 

Homelessness services organizations have worked with both state and local governments to implement emergency decompression shelter and isolation procedures, and New Hampshire has so far dedicated $3 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to assist shelter staff, to pay for increased shelter costs, and to aid community agencies that help individuals experiencing homelessness find long-term residences. And we are glad that the CARES Act includes resources for veterans experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness, which will provide important supportive housing, health care, decompression, and eviction prevention services to veterans in New Hampshire and across the country.

 

It is also important to acknowledge that shelters and service providers are going to have to continue social distancing practices for the foreseeable future, in order to safeguard the health and wellness of their residents. Maintaining these practices will involve prolonged changes to physical spaces, food preparation and distribution, and staffing, in addition to other changes that will increase ongoing expenses. Allocating additional, flexible resources to make these necessary changes will go far in ensuring that states can adapt to the shelter capacity and sanitation challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.

 

Additionally, it is critical that Congress also work to support renters who are at risk of experiencing homelessness due to financial strain caused by the crisis. While the federal eviction moratorium in the CARES Act was a necessary first step, many renters who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic will struggle to make up their rent once federal, state, and local moratoriums lift. The $4 billion allocation for Emergency Solutions Grants in the CARES Act will help provide some relief, through emergency assistance and eviction prevention activities such as landlord-tenant mediation. Including the Prevent Evictions Act, which would provide additional grant funding to landlord-tenant mediation programs, in future stimulus legislation would also help tenants struggling to pay their rent reach fair outcomes with their landlords and remain in their homes.

 

It is clear that additional resources will be needed to address the scope of this crisis and keep renters stably housed. We applaud the inclusion of additional funding for Emergency Solutions Grants, for Department of Agriculture rural rental assistance programs, and a $100 billion rental assistance fund in the Heroes Act recently passed in the House of Representatives, and we encourage you to continue to include these provisions in any compromise legislation.

 

We look forward to continuing to work with you on these and other important priorities.

 

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