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N.H.’s disability communities call for priority access in future affordable housing projects

A photo of the press conference inside the legislative office building in Concord speakers both remote and in person gathered. A person stands at a podium, flanked by other people standing. Someone else appears at the conference via a laptop.
Alli Fam
Member of and advocates for New Hampshire's disability communities spoke at the legislative office building in Concord Tuesday.

Members of New Hampshire’s disability communities called on the state to prioritize affordable and supportive housing for people with disabilities at a press conference in Concord Tuesday.

Many speakers noted the high rate of New Hampshire adults with disabilities living with aging parents, due to a lack of other housing options.

“Living on my own is important to me. It is a matter of dignity,” said Forrest Beaudoin-Friede, a member of the New Hampshire Council on Developmental Disabilities. “Tell me which other protected class of citizens are expected to live their whole lives with their parents?”

The call for more supportive and affordable housing comes ahead of a public hearing Wednesday held by New Hampshire Housing on the state’s Qualified Allocation Plan, which helps determine which developers get the funding to build units in New Hampshire. It’s the process that defines how tax credits will be allocated for eligible affordable rental housing development proposals from prospective developers.

ABLE New Hampshire, a disability justice organization, has submitted recommendations to New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority. Some of the recommendations focus on the Qualified Allocation Plan, hoping the outcome will prioritize housing needs for people with disabilities.

“We will be at that public hearing along with other members of the disability community to again make our case. And we hope they will adopt more of our recommendations” said Lisa Beaudoin, ABLE’s Executive Director.

The recommendations come as ABLE NH finds many in its community are at risk of homelessness. In an informal survey the organization conducted, with over 300 participants, 68 percent of family caretakers reported their loved one is presently at risk of homelessness.

And with more money flowing into New Hampshire through the American Rescue Plan and recently passed infrastructure bill, Lisa Beaudoin says now is the time to make sure that funding reaches people with disabilities.

ABLE NH wants housing projects to adopt universal design, which is housing constructed to accommodate all people, regardless of their age, size, ability or disability. The group also recommends addressing the needs for support staff, and housing units onsite for them. ABLE NH also calls on the state’s housing authority to recognize the unique needs of people with disabilities and not to lump them into an incredibly broad population of “underserved populations and communities.”

A spokesperson for New Hampshire Housing says the agency received the ABLE’s recommendations Monday, and that they will be addressed in Wednesday’s meeting.

The public hearing is Wednesday at 3 pm, and can be attended virtually or in person.

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