Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Emergency Rental Assistance Coming For Tenants And Landlords Affected By The Pandemic

 Help is on the way for New Hampshire residents who’ve been having a hard time paying their rent and utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the landlords who’ve struggled to pay their mortgages. 

Gov. Chris Sununu announced the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program (NHERAP) on Thursday 2/24, with the aim to provide assistance to eligible residents of the state who have had trouble paying their rent and utilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will be administered by New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority with assistance from the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery.

What is the NHERAP and who is eligible?

For eligible households, the NHERAP will cover current and past due rent as well as utility and home energy costs. To be eligible for rental or utility assistance, at least one person in the household must have qualified for unemployment benefits, had their income reduced, had significant costs, or faced other financial hardship due to the pandemic. The household must also be at risk for homelessness or housing instability, and meet certain income requirements.

Tenants that meet the above hardship criteria may receive assistance for a total of 12 months, which is available retroactive to April 1, 2020, through the date of the application. The applicant may also receive assistance for the rent and utility expenses going forward.

 How the NHERAP will work, and how to apply

Landlords and utility providers will receive payments directly from the fund, on behalf of the household. With the tenant’s permission, landlords may apply for assistance on their tenant’s behalf. The amount of money renters and landlords will be able to get through the program, and when they’ll receive the funds, will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

One possible issue for some tenants and landlords though, is the fact that the relief provided by the program will be capped at 80% of the median income determined by region by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. While the exact figure for 2021 are still to be calculated, in 2020 the HUD region that included a majority of the seacoast, labeled the Portsmouth-Rochester NH region, had a median family income of $102,800.

The NHERAP application information, as well as full program guidelines, were made available March 15, 2021 at nhhfa.org/emergency-rental-assistance.

With more relief coming for tenants and landlords who have had to deal with a year full of uncertainty and stress, both groups will hopefully be able to relax, at least a little bit, as we hopefully head towards the end of this strange time.

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