In the months following the end of state and federal eviction moratoriums, evictions in New Hampshire have been on the rise.
Since the end of June, New Hampshire courts have approved 673 orders to evict tenants. Nearly half of those are just from the month of August.
Marta Hurgin, a staff attorney at the New Hampshire Legal Advice and Referral Center, said the end of a federal $600 unemployment benefit in July affected many of her clients.
“Certainly we have seen an increase in eviction cases due to loss of employment and loss of unemployment benefits,” she said.
Hurgin said in recent weeks she’s been getting questions from clients about the CDC’s new eviction moratorium, and is advising them on how to best use it.
That moratorium requires tenants to send their landlord a form saying that they meet five criteria: they have to have tried to avail themselves from all government assistance for rent and housing; will earn no more than $99,000 in income for 2020; are unable to make a full rental payment because of substantial loss of income; will make best efforts to make partial efforts; and can certify that if evicted they would likely become homeless.
Hurgin said clients are paying attention to how federal relief talks are going in Washington D.C.
“A lot of clients have been watching the news, both to see if Congress does anything with unemployment or stimulus checks, or eviction prevention,” she said.
Another resource for tenants affected by COVID-19 is the New Hampshire’s Housing Relief Program. Earlier this summer, Gov. Chris Sununu set aside $35 million of federal relief money for that program.
As of Sept. 3, about $2.2 million of that money had been distributed to roughly 900 people in the state.
John Manning, CEO of Southwestern Community Services, said that Community Action Programs around the state are working to streamline the application, which initially slowed down the distribution of funds.
“The original application was about seven pages long,” he said. Manning says there may also be challenges for tenants who don’t have internet access, a printer or a scanner to put their applications together.
Manning said that that there are no income limits for tenants who want to apply for help, and that people can apply before they’re given an eviction notice.
“We’re seeing folks that have never had to come and get assistance from a community action agency before,” he said. “I think for some of them it’s difficult to be comfortable asking for assistance, for some of them they just don’t know how that whole process goes.”
Hurgin, the staff attorney, said some of her clients have gotten payments, but some applied weeks ago and are still waiting for assistance.
“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “But it’s something.”