A nonprofit advocacy group says the number of people experiencing homelessness in New Hampshire has dropped in the last two years, though homelessness among students and in some counties is on the rise.
The New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness bases some of their calculations on counts taken every January across the state. These suggest overall homelessness has decreased by five percent, but Coalition director Cathy Kuhn says the homelessness count from January 2019 doesn't reflect the increasing demand on shelters.
“Every shelter is across the state is reporting at and over capacity,” Kuhn says. “It’s always important that we’re looking at multiple sources of data to understand a complex issue like homelessness.”
The report says that there are about 4,000 homeless K-12 students in the state, according to the DOE. That's a twelve percent increase from 2017.
New Hampshire’s rental vacancy rate is currently at .8 percent. In Sullivan County, it is zero percent. Kuhn said lawmakers’ bipartisan efforts this year to increase the affordable housing trust fund should increase the number of affordable housing units over the next two years.
The report finds that median renter income has increased over the last two years by over eight percent, but rent has increased at nearly the same rate.
“What HUD would say is that in order to afford housing without paying more than thirty percent of your income on rent, you would need to be making $54,000,” Kuhn explains. “So even at the median rent, it’s not sufficient to afford the housing across the state.”