How To Find Housing Assistance In New Hampshire Before The Federal Eviction Ban Expires
This article was published before the CDC's moratorium was extended for much of the country, including Hillsbourough, Rockingham and Strafford Counties in early August 2021. Find the latest here.
A federal moratorium on evictions was set to expire at the end of June, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just announced plans to extend that ban through the end of July.
Still, thousands of renters in New Hampshire are waiting to know if they’ll get any help paying their bills through the state’s new emergency rental assistance program.
As of June 18, more than 6,400 people had applied to the fund, with about half of those approved. About $20 million has been distributed.
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Advocates, municipal welfare directors and a director of one Community Action Program talked with NHPR about the state’s rental assistance program and what the extension means for people facing eviction in New Hampshire.
Who still qualifies for the CDC moratorium?
The moratorium focuses on tenants who are behind on their rent. If you have incurred significant expenses or suffered financial hardships, directly or indirectly, related to the pandemic, you can fill out a declaration form confirming you qualify for the moratorium and give it to your landlord. But evictions for breach of lease, threatening the health and safety of other tenants, or damage to property are still allowed, according to Elliott Berry, managing attorney and housing project director at New Hampshire Legal Assistance.
What do I need to know when applying for housing assistance?
You have to meet certain income eligibility requirements and demonstrate a direct or indirect financial impact because of the pandemic. Documentation is required, which can include paystubs, W-2s, unemployment benefits, or tax filings among others. You can apply at www.capnh.org or print a PDF application to mail in.
Advocates, welfare offices and Community Action Programs are encouraging people who need rental assistance to apply now, because the CDC moratorium only extends until the end of July.
“If you are behind on your rent, you really need to get a hold of a community action agency and also talk with your landlord and work in partnership,” says Betsey Andrews Parker, CEO of Community Action Partnership (CAP) of Strafford County.
The assistance program covers back rent and future rent, as well as utilities.
Who do I need to notify that I’ve applied for housing assistance?
Advocates and CAP agencies say you should contact your landlord as soon as you have applied for assistance. If you have a pending eviction, Berry with New Hampshire Legal Assistance also recommends contacting the court to request a postponement of your eviction hearing until you get a decision on your application.
How can I track my housing application?
Stay on top of your email and make sure your voicemail is set up and able to accept messages, Parker says, because case workers may reach out for more details on your application. Check your email’s spam folder too, just in case.
Application processing tends to take up to a month, both Ellen Tully, Portsmouth’s welfare administrator and Dave Balian, Dover’s welfare director say.
What if I’ve applied for rental assistance, am still waiting to hear back and have concerns about an eviction?
If you do have a pending application and a pending eviction, Berry says to notify the court system and file to postpone the case (known as a motion to continue). Those forms are available through 603 Legal Aid, which you can find here.
Anyone who’s facing eviction while waiting for rental relief should make sure to alert their assigned caseworker at their local Community Action Partnership. If possible, Berry says, make sure to let them know the date of any upcoming eviction hearing.
Balian, from Dover’s welfare office says, if applicants are in a position where they can’t wait, resources are still available in his office.
“We’re not going to let anybody get shut off or, you know, start the eviction process just because they can’t get a response quickly enough due to systemic issues. These things take time,” he says.
Rochester Welfare Director Todd Marsh, who leads the state’s welfare administrators association, also encouraged people to contact their local welfare departments if they need help paying their bills — even if they’re still waiting for other rental assistance.
“I hope people, if needed, take advantage of the extension to reach out to agencies, including [CAP] and local welfare departments sooner than later,” he said. “Requesting and navigating assistance is more effective and successful when owed amounts are lower than higher.”
What if my landlord isn’t cooperating?
If you're having trouble getting your landlord to cooperate with your application for New Hampshire’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program, Berry said you should be able to receive money from the program directly, which can then be used to pay your bills.
“For people who are not getting cooperation from their landlord, they can and should be asking the CAP to have money paid to them directly,” he said.
Berry said landlords should also be aware that the rental assistance program is a big benefit to them, since it can ensure they receive money they’re owed from their tenants.