By BOB QUINN
Chief Executive Officer
The Senate Finance Committee has been diligently assembling its version of the state budget. Last week, the Committee completed its final recommendations, and housing was high on the list of topics discussed.
The Committee approved $10 million for the InvestNH housing program, which is administered by the NH Department of Business and Economic Affairs (BEA). InvestNH administers grants and loans which are available to both municipalities and housing developers for projects where at least 20 percent of the housing units will be affordable for a period of at least 10 years.
The Committee also approved a new Housing Champion program, designed to give municipalities the option to apply to the BEA in order to receive the “New Hampshire Housing Champion designation.” In exchange for that designation, a municipality will receive preferential access to state resources, including discretionary state infrastructure funds.
The Senate budget writers also included a $20 million appropriation into the NH Housing Finance Authority’s Affordable Housing Fund, providing financing or state matching funds for affordable housing.
Additional dollars were appropriated to NH Department of Health and Human Services to reduce homelessness. The full Senate will take up the budget this week.
Path cleared for study on barriers to housing
Senate Bill 47 establishes a commission to study barriers to residential development in New Hampshire. A similar commission met from September 2019 to November 2020 but was halted due to COVID.
This new iteration will focus on barriers to residential development density for different housing types. It is tasked with reviewing the availability of public water and sewer infrastructure, Department of Environmental Services’ requirements for individual sewage disposal systems, and exploring the impacts of development on school enrollment and property values.
NHAR has a seat on this 15-person commission, which will need to file a final report in November 2024. The House Municipal Committee voted to support it, and the full House will take it up later this week.
Game camera legislation sees potential trouble ahead
Senate Bill 14 would prohibit placing a game camera on private property without first obtaining permission from the landowner. Currently, nothing in state statute prohibits these cameras from being used on someone else's property. The bill had passed the full House last month but needed to go back to the Criminal Justice Committee for one more review before final passage.
That committee had no issue with SB 14, but the bill’s ultimate passage will have little to do with the merits of game cameras on private land. Instead, the legislation is stuck in a tug-of-war between the House and Senate. The House Criminal Justice Committee added a non-related amendment dealing with penalties related to drug possession – language the Senate has already killed this session.
The Senate countered that legislative move by placing the language of SB 14 into a bill dealing with the acquisition of agricultural land and pari-mutuel betting on horse racing – two items the House has already voted in favor.
Both the Senate and House will need to figure out how best to move forward with the bill before the end of the month.
Quotes of the Week
“The first thing we hear from every businessperson is housing, housing, housing.”
Sen. Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua), advocating for appropriations to housing initiatives during last week’s Senate Finance Hearing
“This budget provides unprecedented funding for housing development.”
Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Conway), referring to the $45 million appropriated in the next budget for various housing programs
For more information, contact New Hampshire Realtors CEO Bob Quinn: email@example.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