How To Access Housing Assistance Within N.H.'s Tight Rental Market
Housing is a challenge for people across most income groups in New Hampshire. There's very little supply, and costs are going up for both homeowners and renters.
But for those struggling to make rent, it can be a particularly scary time, as the state faces a long time housing shortage. Heather Griffin is assistant program director with LISTEN Community Services in Lebanon. She helps people keep their rentals by guiding them through the process of applying for housing assistance.
For NHPR's series "New Hampshire's Housing Crunch," Morning Edition host Rick Ganley spoke with Griffin about how she's seen a significant increase in people applying in New Hampshire this last year.
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Rick Ganley: There's a supply issue here in New Hampshire and particularly in the Upper Valley. What are some of the other barriers that individuals and families are facing in applying for housing assistance?
Heather Griffin: I think right now we're primarily working in New Hampshire with the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. So some of the barriers there for folks have been just not having Internet service that is reliable, or honestly, people just saying, I know what email is. I think I have it. I don't really use it. And just having a phone or Internet is a problem. Like they're calling just desperately saying, my service is going to run out tomorrow. I need my phone to look for a job, to look for housing, to apply for assistance.
Rick Ganley: So you can help these folks navigate the system. I'm wondering if folks don't even realize that there is help available.
Heather Griffin: That is true, yes. Anybody who is calling to ask for rent... [When] we hear of a situation, you know, [we ask] does it make sense to, in this particular situation, to apply for rental assistance? And 90 percent of the time or more, they do qualify for the assistance. And I think a lot of people actually don't think they would qualify and then they find out they do.
Rick Ganley: The CDC has extended the federal eviction moratorium to the end of the month. According to U.S. Census numbers, there are thousands of people right here in New Hampshire alone that could be facing eviction. What should someone do if they are in that position?
Heather Griffin: I am absolutely sending anybody who has an eviction to New Hampshire Legal Aid, because it could be as easy as working with us at [LISTEN Community Services] to apply for the emergency housing. And with getting some guidance from New Hampshire Legal Aid, the rent gets paid. The landlord is happy and the eviction can be prevented.
Rick Ganley: And the bottom line here is that if you are facing eviction or having a hard time paying the rent, there are resources for you here in New Hampshire.
Heather Griffin: There are, yes. I think in general, it's just a difficult time because there isn't a lot of housing available that's affordable. So people who are facing evictions, if they're evicted, there may not be housing afterwards very quickly. It could take some time to find other housing. So I'm just encouraging folks to work with the programs that are available, to communicate with the landlords, find people like us that can help with that process to avoid the eviction altogether. And so both parties — the landlord and the tenant — can be happy in the end and the landlord does get paid.
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