Legislative Update: May 16, 2023

Legislative Update: May 16, 2023

Senate takes it shot at state budget

Chief Executive Officer

The Governor and House of Representatives have had their say on the state budget, so now it is the Senate’s turn. 

Incentivizing more affordable housing construction has been a big part of the budgetary debate. Those state appropriations are centered in two existing programs, Invest NH and the Affordable Housing Fund, as well as a potential new program, the Housing Champion Designation and Grant Program. 

Between the Governor’s budget and the Housing Champions Grant Program, which passed the Senate earlier this year, a total of $80 million was designated for housing. It appears that after the budget process is finalized the final number will be significantly less. 

The Invest NH fund was originally created by the Governor, utilizing federal funds, to provide incentives for developers to create affordable housing. Those federal dollars were distributed last year, so policy makers are looking to add state dollars to refill that fund. 

The House budget was written to allow those Invest NH grants to be made to municipalities, while the Governor and Senate are trying to direct the grants to developers. The Senate is also looking to drop the total allocation to $10 million – the Governor had originally asked for $30 million. Projects would likely need to make 20 percent of units in a project affordable for 10 years.

The Senate is also looking to add Senate Bill 145 – which passed the Senate earlier this year – to its budget. The bill creates a Housing Champion Designation and Grant Program in order to incentivize municipalities to approve more affordable housing projects.

Towns that adopt regulations and ordinances which promote the development of workforce housing, provide training to land use board members, and implement sewer and water improvements would be eligible to receive grants to support the infrastructure improvements for the new housing.

SB 145 originally appropriated $25 million for the grant program, but the Senate appears to be looking to lower the amount to $5 million.

Finally, the Affordable Housing Fund, which is administered by the NH Housing Finance Authority, stays at the House adopted figure of $15 million. The Governor had asked for $25 million.

There is still a long way to go in the budgetary process. NHAR strongly supports all of these programmatic appropriations, which will likely play an important part in adding a couple of thousand new housing units in the next few years. However, it will take the private sector to overcome municipal obstacles and create the vast majority of the estimated 50,000 units of housing needed to be built this decade to meet demand.

House supports private property owners relative to game cameras

Senate Bill 14 would require anyone who places a game camera on another’s property to have written landowner permission and require that the owner of the camera have their name and contact information visible on the camera while mounted. While the vote was very close in the House Fish and Game Committee, it was not close on the House floor. An effort to kill the measure was roundly defeated, 321-46, before the bill subsequently passed on a voice vote.

The legislation is still not quite ready to head to the Governor’s desk, as it has been referred to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. 

Quote of the Week

“The Legislature needs to provide a cohesive program with a stick and carrot that demands municipalities address the crisis of affordable housing … a housing unit costs roughly $80,000 in regulatory costs and at least $100,000 to buy the land, so before you even get one stick in the ground you’ve spent nearly $200,000 per unit. You have to build a McMansion in order to make a buck."

Manchester developer Dick Anagnost, speaking to the NH House Special Committee on Housing

For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: bob@nhar.com.

"Amidst the sea of change to which the New Hampshire Association of REALTORS has played witness in its 85 years, one thing that has remained constant is the Realtor 'R' and the value we bring to every real estate transaction in which we take part. We are part of a unique community where our familial cooperation transcends our business competition. These are not mere platitudes, but our living ideals, and they are, in fact, the foundation on which we conduct ourselves in our day-to-day affairs."

Ben Cushing, 2023 President, New Hampshire REALTORS