By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
Gov. Chris Sununu was taken by surprise that New Hampshire wasn’t awarded $67 million more funding to continue the U.S. Treasury’s Emergency Rental Assistance beyond Dec. 29, but his challenger Dr. Tom Sherman says Sununu has only himself to blame.
Sununu has written the Democratic Congressional delegation seeking help.
“I ask that you work directly with U.S. Treasury and urge them to reconsider their decision to end the ERA program early in New Hampshire, while confirming New Hampshire’s reallocation of our ERA 1 funding. Please stand up and right this wrong for our state,” Sununu said in a letter to the delegation that he released to the press.
“After waiting several months, we learned that without notice or explanation, additional Emergency Rental Assistance funds for New Hampshire have been rejected while 28 other states around the country have been given the resources for their program to continue,” Sununu said.
“With skyrocketing inflation, cold weather and the holiday season, this is the absolute worst time for the federal government to take this step.”
A copy of the Sununu’s letter can be found here.
Sherman, a Rye Democrat, said, “Sununu’s mismanagement wasted $19 million in rental assistance during a housing crisis, and now his mismanagement of federal funds has jeopardized a further $67 million in rental assistance with rents skyrocketing and energy prices soaring.”
Sununu’s spokesman has not responded to a request for comment regarding Sherman’s allegations.
“Sununu’s response was to cast blame instead of taking responsibility for his administration’s actions. It’s no surprise, since at the same time he was announcing plans to participate in a 2024 presidential cattle call next month,” Sherman said.
Sherman blames Sununu saying he is more focused on his political ambitions than on Granite Staters.
“Whether it’s his refusal to expand our energy options, his inability to appropriately use rental assistance funds, or his failure to address New Hampshire’s substance use and mental health crises, Granite Staters are being hurt by his mismanagement,” Sherman said.
Sherman said Granite Staters are paying a “mismanagement tax because of Chris Sununu’s repeated failures to think about anything beyond his political ambitions.
“Sununu vetoed bipartisan measures that would have expanded our energy options while taking contributions from utility companies, failed to spend $19 million in rental assistance during a housing crisis, and now has lost additional funds because he failed to manage the program appropriately. Winter is approaching, and Granite Staters will be paying the price for Chris Sununu’s mismanagement,” Sherman said.
In the meantime on Friday, New Hampshire Housing announced it is pausing incoming applications under the NH Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Effective Friday, Oct. 21, new applications will not be accepted pending a review of the existing pipeline of applications, the level of federal funding available, and the status of existing state requests to U.S. Treasury for additional funding, NH Housing said in a news release.
Support services will continue to be available through the five Community Action Partnership (CAP) agencies, and all applications in the pipeline will be reviewed and funded (pending eligibility). For updates about the Emergency Rental Assistance Program go to the program page. States and localities across the country have been funding emergency rental assistance since 2021 with resources provided by the U.S. Treasury under the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
This COVID-19 relief program has kept people housed who have been impacted economically by the pandemic. Without additional reallocated funds or further Congressional authorization, those states and localities will no longer have resources available under this program, according to NH Housing.
NH Housing and the CAP agencies around the state have been administering NHERAP since March 2021 and provided over $230 million in assistance to over 23,000 households in all 10 counties. For those who are homeless or at risk for homelessness, contact 2-1-1. For assistance with an eviction, contact 603 Legal Aid, which provides free civil legal services to low-income people at (603) 224-3333. An overview of New Hampshire’s program can be found here.
Those looking for additional information and to access supportive services should contact their local Community Action Partnership (CAP) by visiting www.capnh.org.