Virtual Snapshot Event
NH Housing Relief Program
Last Week, Governor Sununu announced that $35 million from the federal funding the state received through the CARES Act will be used to create the NH Housing Relief Program. This new program will support individuals and families in need of housing assistance due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Complete details about how the program will work have not yet been released, but we do know that this funding will be administered by the Community Action Program agencies throughout the state. Using these new funds, CAP agencies will be able to provide one-time grants to cover past-due rent and other eligible housing expenses, as well as ongoing short-term rental assistance. Information is available here.
We look forward to working with our local CAP agencies to help our residents maintain safe and stable housing as the COVID-19 crisis continues. We are extremely grateful to Governor Sununu and the advisory boards to the Governor’s Office for Emergency Relief and Recovery for listening to input from a range of stakeholders and making housing stability a priority in their deliberations. We also thank our Congressional delegation for their work on the CARES Act to ensure that New Hampshire has access to emergency funding.
NeighborWorks Week - In Full Bloom
LRCD joined fellow NeighborWorks America members across the nation in celebrating NeighborWorks Week from June 6–13.
NeighborWorks America is a nationwide network of excellence made up of 250 housing and community development organizations. LRCD has been a chartered member of NeighborWorks America since 2000. As a member of NeighborWorks America, LRCD receives crucial operating funds, and has access to valuable peer-exchange learning opportunities, technical assistance, performance evaluation tools, and professional development for staff. NeighborWorks is considered the nation's leading trainer of housing and community development professionals.
Every year in early June, hundreds of NeighborWorks organizations around the country mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers, businesspeople, neighbors, friends, and civic leaders in a week of neighborhood change and awareness.
Last week, LRCD enthusiastically joined in the fun of NeighborWorks Week at several LRCD properties including community garden projects in Wolfeboro and Meredith and one flower planting in Laconia.
Green Tip - No Reusable Bags
What are the best practices for using reusable bags during the pandemic?
Maintaining a sustainable lifestyle and reducing plastic pollution is still possible when proper precautions are taken. Here are a few best practices for reusable bags:
2019 Impact Report
The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging us to work in new and different ways, but it has not dampened our resolve for the Lakes Region to be a place where everyone has a healthy home and is empowered to succeed. We would have unveiled our 2019 Impact Report last month at our Lakes Region Housing & Economy Snapshot event, which unfortunately we had to postpone (stay tuned for us to present a virtual edition of that event to you soon). We hope you can take a few minutes to read about all the new things we did last year. Our challenge will be to continue this momentum in an uncertain and ever-changing environment. We know we can do it with your continued support and partnership.
Click here to see our 2019 Impact Report.
Harriman Hill Homes Tax Credits Sold!
Thank you to the 11 businesses that supported this project with tax credit purchases.
Ames Brook Renovations Almost Complete
Renovations at Ames Brook Apartments in Ashland have continued on schedule despite COVID-19. North Branch Construction is doing an excellent job, especially under these circumstances. Currently, 23 of the 40 apartments have been completely renovated and nine more will be complete by the end of May. Interior renovations include new flooring, new cabinets, new energy-efficient appliances, and completely renovated bathrooms. Exterior renovations are complete. The parking lot has been repaved, new siding and windows have been installed, and new porches have replaced the old ones. We hope for construction to be finished by the end of June.
Pine Hill Solar
For 26 years, Lakes Region Community Developers has developed healthy rental homes. We define a healthy home as one that is energy-efficient and affordable. Despite the fact that we offer high quality rental homes at rents that our less fortunate neighbors can manage, many of our residents still struggle to pay for basic needs every month. Three years ago, we began an initiative to add solar to as many of our apartment buildings as possible to reduce or eliminate electric bills for our residents while also doing something good for the environment.
Our third solar project in three years has just been completed at six of our nine Pine Hill duplexes. Pine Hill was one of the first properties that we redeveloped in Laconia back in the 1990s. Until now, the families at Pine Hill paid for electricity separately from their rent. Now with the installed solar system, we are able to include electricity in the monthly rent. Residents will be able to budget more successfully knowing they won't have a fluctuating electric bill.
We are extremely grateful to the Thomas W. Haas Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the New Hampshire Public Utility Commission, and Mainstay Technologies for providing the funds to make this project possible.
ReVision Energy designed and installed the Pine Hill Solar system.
Our focus this past month has been reaching out to our residents to educate them about COVID-19 and to help them meet their most immediate needs, including food and prescription medications.
We are grateful to our supporters and partners who have reached out during the last month to ask how COVID-19 is impacting our ability to provide healthy and affordable housing for the Lakes Region. For many organizations serving people of low-income, COVID-19 has created an immediate surge in demand for services. For Lakes Region Community Developers, COVID-19 is a slower-moving crisis that could get worse over time as the short-term government stimulus wears off and the economic recession deepens. It is still too early to know the full impact.
The biggest risk to LRCD is that a significant portion of our residents cannot pay rent for a sustained period of time. All of our properties operate at extremely thin margins – we budget for them to break even each year in order to keep rents as low as possible. Most of “our properties” are not actually ours at all; they really belong to the investors who purchased our low-income housing tax credits, which provide the bulk of the money needed to build the rental homes we operate. If these properties operate in the red for too long, LRCD is on the hook to fill in the gap and make our investors whole.
As we enter the second month of the COVID-19 crisis, our focus turns to working with our residents to help them find resources to pay as much of their rent as possible. We fully support Governor Sununu’s executive order halting all evictions during this crisis. We took the additional step of waiving all late fees. The Hodges Companies, our third-party property manager, and Kristy Pearce, LRCD’s Resident Services Coordinator, are working in lock-step to provide information and support to LRCD residents to help them access rental assistance funds from a variety of agencies. We will work in partnership with our residents to ensure that all of our families remain in safe and healthy housing during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
We are extremely grateful to many of our funders for providing flexibility and new sources of financing and grants to help us overcome the challenges ahead. With support from our community, we will continue to pursue our vision of a community where everyone has a healthy home and is empowered to succeed.
How You Can Help
Over these last few weeks, we have heard first-hand from many LRCD residents about the local organizations that have helped them meet their basic needs during this crisis. We’ve compiled the list below and encourage you to donate to one or more of them today, if you can.
Granite United Way COVID-19 Relief Fund
Got Lunch! Laconia
Helping Hands Senior Support for the Lakes Region
Find them on Facebook, email email@example.com, or leave a message at 1-802-242-1574.
Life Ministries Food Pantry (Wolfeboro)
Got Lunch! Inter-Lakes
Make checks payable to Trinity Episcopal Church with “Got Lunch! Inter-Lakes” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to Trinity Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 635, Meredith, NH 03253.
Every Child Is Ours (Winnisquam School District)
The COVID-19 pandemic is scary, and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed by what is going on. Unfortunately, the reality is that things will get a lot worse in the coming weeks and months, and many people in our communities are going to need help. The good news is that there are things you can do today to change the course of the pandemic and help our community get through it.
The days ahead will be challenging. But we are not helpless in the face of this pandemic. Each of us has the power change the course of history with our choices over the coming weeks and months. There is a strong spirit of generosity and community here in the Lakes Region – we have a lot of practice giving back and helping out! So I know that, while we may all experience sadness in the days to come, we will also feel moments of great hope as we work together to overcome this unprecedented challenge.
Yours in hope and community,
Carmen R. Lorentz