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Advocate: New Investment in Affordable Housing Will Help End Homelessness in N.H.

Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Efforts to end homelessness could get a major boost this year in New Hampshire.

Cathy Kuhn, the director of the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness, says there is bipartisan support for a proposed $20 million investment over two years into the state’s affordable housing fund.

“We are so excited about the potential for this bill and the potential impact that it could have because what it does then, the state makes  that investment and we’re able to leverage those funds from other private and public resources," she said Thursday on NHPR's The Exchange.

Housing advocates have had limited success in funding requests in recent years. "Last year, or during the last (budget) cycle, we got $2.5 million," she said. "We asked for $25 million. We got $2.5 -- and great, we're thankful. But it's not enough. It's not enough to make a real impact."

The Coalition to End Homelessness reported in December that the number of homeless in New Hampshire increased 10 percent from 2016 to 2018. The homeless estimate is 1,450.

She noted there are 146 families currently on the wait list for 11 family units in Manchester, with 57 of those reporting that they either lived outside, in cars, or in a makeshift arrangement without amenities.

The statewide numbers are stark, especially given winter weather, but the homelessness problem is solvable, she says.

And it’s not just a problem for low- to moderate- income residents, she adds.

“I hear from business owners all the time who say that they can’t find employees because there’s no place for their employees to live. So, this issue really impacts all of us.”

Dan is a long-time New Hampshire journalist who has written for outlets including Foster's Daily Democrat, The Citizen of Laconia, The Boston Globe, and The Eagle-Tribune. He comes to NHPR from the New Hampshire Union Leader, where he reported on state, local, and national politics.

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