(The Center Square) – New Hampshire is getting more federal funds to help prop up its rental assistance program as the state’s leaders continue to squabble over its possible collapse.
The U.S. Treasury has approved an additional $2 million from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program to help more Granite Staters cover overdue rents, utility bills and other expenses. The funding comes a week after the Treasury pumped another $2.4 million into the state’s rental assistance program.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said the additional funding will help keep more Granite Staters in their homes “despite the unnecessary hurdles created by the state’s mismanagement of the program.”
“This latest allocation can help bridge the gap and allow New Hampshire households to access assistance, but more resources will be needed to meet the demand,” Shaheen said in a statement.
New Hampshire’s leaders have been feuding for weeks over funding for the rental assistance program following the Treasury’s announcement, that the state will not be receiving $67 million it was expecting from the ERA program to keep it running through next year.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu accused the Biden administration of pulling the plug on rental assistance for the state “without notice or explanation.” He said he would shut down the program by the end of the year, possibly sooner, without more funding.
But the state’s Democrats say the blame lies with Sununu for a slow roll out of the rental assistance program last year, and other policy decisions made by the administration.
Two weeks ago, Shaheen wrote to Sununu that the Treasury’s decision to pass over the state for additional rental assistance funds was a “direct consequence” of “missteps” by his administration. She accused Sununu of trying to “shift blame to the federal government for his “mismanagement” of the program.
Shaheen and other members of the state’s all-Democrat delegation requested the additional rental assistance money, which will come from the American Rescue Plan Act funds.
The Sununu administration created the New Hampshire Emergency Rental Assistance Program in March with about $20 million in federal funding from a pandemic relief package. The state paused the program in October, and is currently not accepting new applications.
To date, New Hampshire has doled out more than $230 million to help provide rent and utility relief to residents struggling to pay their bills throughout the pandemic, according to the agency.
The funding has provided 25,785 households with an average of $10,046 in rental assistance, the state agency said.