On Wednesday, February 22nd, Governor Chris Sununu wrote to members of the Senate Finance Committee regarding SB 231, relative to establishing housing credits and making appropriations for workforce and affordable housing. Note: A copy of the original letter can be found here.
Dear Members of the Senate Finance Committee,
I am writing today to express my support for SB 231. As you are aware, New Hampshire is experiencing an unprecedented crisis in housing availability, which is impacting affordability for all housing types statewide. In some areas of the state, there is less than a 1 % vacancy rate (the percentage of units that are available to prospective tenants). This situation has made it more expensive to live here and difficult to attract newcomers who want to experience the Live Free or Die spirit.
SB 231 funds many of the same programs that are currently addressed in my proposed budget trailer bill (HB 2) for the upcoming biennium. Last year, the state invested $50 million under the InvestNH program to accelerate the pace for new affordable units to reach the housing market. The program is designed to address significant increases in hard costs that have delayed or stopped otherwise shovel-ready projects. Infusing another $30 million into the InvestNH program would help bring hundreds of additional housing units online quickly, in addition to the roughly 1,500 units that will be brought to market under the initial round of funding.
Moreover, putting another $25 million forward toward the affordable housing fund will help bolster the market with low-interest loans and grants for the construction, rehabilitation, and/or acquisition of housing affordable to families and individuals with low-to-moderate incomes.
This bill also proposes a historic housing preservation tax credit – a tool to incentivize development of existing historic structures. Across the Granite State, there is older infrastructure that could be repurposed and developed into housing. This new program would initiate a state historic housing preservation tax credit, capped at $5 million annually, to provide eligible properties in local communities statewide a new tool in their toolbox to incentivize reuse for housing development.
SB 231 makes a $10 million appropriation to address homelessness in our state. The state has recently taken bold steps to bolster emergency shelter bed capacity and provide warming shelters in the winter months. The additional funding under this bill would invest more in those opportunities while also funding housing stabilization services and eviction prevention programs over the biennium.
The state’s strong fiscal position provides a unique opportunity to invest $55 million into one-time projects while also increasing potential ongoing incentives for housing projects. I urge the committee to support this bill to address the lack of available housing supply in New Hampshire.
Governor Christopher T. Sununu