Policy issues

There are many public policy issues that affect individuals, families and communities with low- and moderate-incomes. The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund gets involved mostly with those issues that are credit-related and/or that affect our ability to serve these populations, particularly when we can bring expertise to the debate or when the outcome might lead to positive systems change.

2014

New Hampshire

HB 1138 – Doubling the homestead food producer exemption

The “homestead” food producer license was created to help farms sell value-added products without having to go through a commercial-kitchen certification and licensing process. Producers with annual gross sales under  $10,000 were exampted from having to be licensed. This doubles the exemption limit to $20,000 of goods sold from a home or farm stand, or at farmers' markets. This will strengthen the economics of new farms producing food for sale locally.

The Community Loan Fund supports this legislation.

HB 1297 – Requiring a town's legislative body to approve applications for, or acceptance or expenditure of, workforce housing grants

This bill, which would require multiple town meeting approvals of grants needed to develop affordable housing, is only the latest effort to undermine prohibitions against the use of local regulatory barriers to inhibit the development of workforce housing. The delay and uncertainty this bill would introduce into the development process would make it virtually impossible to construct any such housing.

The Community Loan Fund opposes this legislation.

Testimony submitted to the House Municipal and County Government Committee, January 30, 2014

HB 1509 – Extending New Hampshire's business enterprise tax for large nonprofits

The IRS recognizes the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund as a legitimate 501(c)(3) because we have a clear public mission that benefits low-income people and the state as a whole. The U.S. Treasury certifies our work and rewards that work with grants because we make loans that the for-profit financial system will not or cannot make and that have clear public benefit. Subjecting us to the business enterprise tax would hinder our mission.

The Community Loan Fund opposes this legislation.

Testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, January 15, 2014

2013

New Hampshire

HB 108 – Giving manufactured housing parks and condominium associations access to dog registration records

The state’s manufactured-home cooperatives manage pets in many different ways, each intended to promote safety within the community by ensuring that all dogs are vaccinated against rabies. The bill would further that goal by giving cooperatives another tool with which to enforce their regulations. If manufactured-housing communities and condominium associations are able to verify that a dog is not registered, they can direct its owner to register and vaccinate it.

The Community Loan Fund supports this legislation. HB 108 was defeated in the House.

Letter to the House Committee on Municipal and County Government, January 16, 2013

HB 210 – Shortens from 18 months to 60 days the notice required for eviction from a manufactured housing park due to condemnation of the park

The Community Loan Fund believes this bill is a step back from New Hampshire’s commitment to workforce housing. It would strip low-income households of their assets and add to the insecurity of homeownership in investor-owned manufactured-home communities. Park owners who want to replace homes with commercial buildings could circumvent the required 18-month notice of closure and the 60-day notice of sale by letting infrastructure problems deteriorate to the point of having the park condemned.

The Community Loan Fund opposes this legislation. HB 210 was defeated in the House.

Testimony before House Judiciary Committee, January 22, 2013.

HB 215 – Requires cities and towns to devote at least 5 percent of their dwelling units to workforce housing and defines  “community” for purposes of planning and zoning laws

This bill would weaken a law that has substantially reduced communities' ability to use local zoning to restrict the development of affordable housing. The 5% figure not only represents the kind of “quota” that the earlier statutory change was careful to avoid, it also establishes a target that is much lower than the proportion of affordable housing that is actually needed in most communities. By shrinking the area that communities have to consider in their planning process, the bill would eliminate the requirement that the zoniong and planning of communities take into account market demand beyond their immediate borders.

The Community Loan Fund opposes this legislation. HB 215 was defeated in the House.

Letter to the House Committee on Municipal and County Governmentt, January 31, 2013

HB 278 – Making fire suppression sprinklers an enforceable requirement when a building permit applicant offers to install them

Because manufactured homes are affordable homes – the only affordable housing option in some rural communities – the Community Loan Fund resists laws that could result in the exclusion of manufactured homes from communities. In 2011, we supported passage of a law that prevents municipalities from requiring fire-suppression sprinklers in single-family homes, which would add about $5,865 to the home-buyer’s cost. HB 278 would likely undermine the protections the legislature passed in 2011 and is unnecessary or potentially counterproductive.

The Community Loan Fund opposes this legislation. HB 278 passed both the House and Senate.

Testimony before the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs, January 30, 2013

HB 395 – Prohibits state agencies and other recipients of state funds from using them, directly or indirectly, to hire an individual who was a registered lobbyist within the last five years

This proposal would restrict the employment decisions of the Community Loan Fund and other nonprofits across the state, many of which designate a member of their staff as their lobbyist. In most of these cases, the person’s lobbying activity accounts for a very small percentage of their duties. Passage of this bill would make it difficult for anyone who had held such a position to be hired by any company or organization that receives state funding. It would also inhibit nonprofits from participating in the legislative process.

The Community Loan Fund opposes this legislation. HB 395 was defeated in the House.

Testimony before the House Committee on Executive Departments and Administration, February 5, 2013

HB 562 – Raising the maximum annual interest rate on title loans from 25% per month to 36% per year

The business model of the car-title loan industry, like that formerly employed by predatory payday lenders in New Hampshire, combines high interest rates with a very short time for repayment. The result is that many borrowers are trapped in a cycle of debt, with devastating consequences to their personal finances. Car-title lending is actually more pernicious than payday lending because instead of having to demonstrate that they have income, borrowers must “mortgage” their ability to travel to work. By establishing a 36%-per-year ceiling on these loans, the bill aligns the state’s car-title lending cap with that of small-dollar lending.

The Community Loan Fund supports this legislation. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs has retained the bill for study.

Letter to the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs, February 25, 2013

HB 630 – Increases the share of RGGI funds to be used to weatherize homes of low-income households

What was originally a bill to terminate New Hampshire’s involvement in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is now a bill to require that a defined percentage of RGGI proceeds in New Hampshire be used to help low-income households increase their energy efficiency and save money. The money will flow through the state’s electric and gas utilities.

The Community Loan Fund supports this legislation. The House and Senate agreed to set at 15 percent the portion of RGGI funds to help low-income households.

Letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, April 17, 2013

SB 98 – Authorizes group net metering for limited electrical energy procedures and establishes a committee to study reimbursement rates for excess electricity generated by customer-generator groups.

New Hampshire's 104 resident-owned manufactured-housing communities are nonprofit cooperatives that could benefit from group net metering.

 The Community Loan Fund supports this legislation. The House and Senate passed SB 98.

SB 118 – Increasing the allocation of tax credits that may be issued by the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority’s Community Development Investment Program

CDFA has used its tax-credit authority to strengthen the fabric of New Hampshire’s communities and has achieved significant results by leveraging relatively small state investments. Expanding this authority is a good investment. During the last 10 years, CDFA has made five awards of tax-credit investments, totaling approximately $2.7 million, to the Community Loan Fund. By leveraging federal and private funds, these tax-credit investments have yielded investments worth more than $51.7 million in New Hampshire’s communities . These investments have helped working parents stay in their jobs by providing good, safe, affordable child care; and have helped people with low incomes save and invest in home, an education, a small business, or a car.

The Community Loan Fund supports this legislation. The Senate is holding the bill in its Ways and Means Committee.

Letter to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, February 5, 2013

SB 186 – Requires management training for nonprofit boards of directors

Every organization has strong incentives to make sure its managers and directors are well trained and focused. Many, like ours, are scrutinized regularly by public and private funders. Instead of mandating training, the Legislature should insist that state grants be awarded only to organizations that can achieve the grants’ goals.

The Community Loan Fund opposes this legislation. The Senate is holding the bill in its Public and Municipal Affairs Committee.

Letter to the Senate Committee on Public and Municipal Affairs, March 5, 2013

2012

New Hampshire

House Bill 1490  Changing New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap and trade program for controlling carbon dioxide emissions

This bill would eliminate the funding generated for low-income residential energy efficiency projects by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). New Hampshire’s law guiding its RGGI participation guaranteed that at least 10 percent of the revenues generated from the sale of carbon allowances would be dedicated to grants for weatherizing low-income households.This bill eliminated that provision and makes many other changes to the statute.

The Community Loan Fund opposed this legislation, arguing that low-income households need to be part of the solution to climate change, not merely its victims. The bill became law, without the Governor’s signature.

Commentary summarizing the Community Loan Fund's opposition to HB 1490, May 16, 2012

2011

New Hampshire

House Bill 109 – Prohibiting local planning boards from requiring the installation of a fire suppression sprinkler system in proposed one- or two-family residences as a condition of approval for a local permit

This bill would prevent planning boards from requiring the installation of sprinkler systems in new one- and two-family homes. Such systems are not common in manufactured homes, and their requirement would make this type of affordable housing less affordable and less available to people and families with low incomes. Some manufactured housing communities would have to invest in larger water systems and storage tanks as new homes were sited there.In addition, Dept. of Housing and Urban Development standards have greatly increased the fire safety of manufactured housing.

The Community Loan Fund supported this legislation, and urged the House and Senate to override Gov. John Lynch's veto. The veto override was successful, and the bill became law effective July 1, 2011

Letter to House and Senate urging override of Governor's veto, June 21, 2011

House Bill 232 – Clarifying tax obligation for abandoned manufactured housing

Neighbors of an abandoned home are not responsible for the unpaid taxes on that home. This bill prevents towns from denying demolition permits for abandoned manufactured housing on the basis of unpaid taxes. It will encourage quicker replacement of homes in manufactured housing communities, creating more taxable properties for towns, the resumption of lot rents to park owners, and more-stable neighborhoods.

The Community Loan Fund supported this legislation. HB 232 was defeated in the House.

Testimony before the House Municipal and County Affairs Committee, Feb. 3, 2011

House Bill 368 – Permitting municipalities to decide whether to approve workforce housing

In recognition that young families and working families need housing they can afford, New Hampshire law requires every community to provide “reasonable and realistic opportunities” for the development of workforce housing. This bill would eliminate that requirement and allow cities and towns to decide whether to issue permits for housing for people with low and moderate incomes. This would allow some communities to revert to their earlier – and currently illegal – discriminatory practices against such housing.

The Community Loan Fund opposed this legislation. HB 368 was defeated in the Senate.

Testimony before the House Municipal and County Government Committee, Feb. 24, 2011

House Bill 519 – Repealing New Hampshire's regional greenhouse gas initiative cap and trade program for controlling carbon dioxide emissions

In the current law, the Legislature wisely set aside 10 percent of New Hampshire's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds for energy conservation in low-income households. Repeal of the law will deny the state a flexible tool for addressing the energy-efficiency needs of its poorest citizens.

The Community Loan Fund opposed this legislation. The bill was defeated when the House and Senate passed different versions and were unable to reconcile their differences in a Committee of Conference.

Testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, April 21, 2011

Senate Bill 57 – Changing from 36 percent per year to 25 percent per month the interest that may be changed for (car) title loans

The Community Loan Fund uses loans and education in ways that benefit people and communities with low and moderate incomes. By contrast, the business model of the title loan industry sets people up to fail. This failure is systemic and an essential element of the industry’s profitability. The problem isn't in the high interest rates alone, it's the connection of those high rates with a very short time for repayment.

The Community Loan Fund opposed this legislation. The governor vetoed SB 57, but the veto was overridden by the House and Senate and the bill became law.

Testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee, Feb. 1, 2011

Senate Bill 160 – Relative to the definition and regulation of installment loans

In the view of the Community Loan Fund, credit wisely used is an important, and even necessary, tool for stabilizing and advancing the economic lives of people with low incomes. The form of payday lending proposed in this bill is diametrically opposed to our strategy of using credit as a wealth-building and empowerment tool for New Hampshire's low-income wage earners.

The Community Loan Fund opposed this legislation. SB 160 was successfully vetoed by the governor.

Testimony before the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee, April 19, 2011

Senate Bill 177 – Requiring the directors and chief officers of every publicly supported voluntary corporation to receive annual management training

Every organization has strong incentives to make sure its managers and directors are well-trained and focused on the work that needs to be done. Many, like ours, are scrutinized regularly by public and private funders. Instead of mandating training, the Legislature should insist that state grants be awarded only to organizations that can achieve the grants' goals.

The Community Loan Fund opposed this legislation. SB 177 was defeated when it was referred to the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee for study and the committee let it expire.

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Executive Departments and Administration, Feb. 10, 2011

National

Budget – Preserving funding for the CDFI Fund

Since 2004, the U.S. Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund has sent $8.5 million to the Community Loan Fund to invest in affordable housing, child care and small businesses across New Hampshire. We are expanding our lending to credit-starved small businesses, and the CDFI Fund will play an important part in our ability to finance business growth.

The Community Loan Fund supports the preservation of funding for the CDFI Fund.

Letter to New Hampshire's Congressional delegation, Feb. 14, 2011

2010

New Hampshire

State budget – Preserving funding for the Board of Manufactured Housing

The Board of Manufactured Housing hears disputes between homeowners and park owners and enforces state laws and community rules that protect both residents and owners. Its effective enforcement has made compliance the norm statewide, saving state government money by keeping disputes out of superior court.

The Community Loan Fund supported the preservation of funding for the Board of Manufactured Housing. The Board of Manufactured Housing was combined administratively with several other small boards and received sufficient funding to continue its work.

Letter to NH Department of Administrative Services Commissioner, Nov. 26, 2010

National

U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development – Suggested changes to the PowerSaver Home Energy Retrofit Loan Pilot Program

We suggest three changes that will make the pilot program more equitable, more likely to reach low-income Americans, and more likely to achieve its goals of diversity and impact on low-income households and communities.

Letter to U.S. Dept. Of Housing and Urban Development, Dec. 20, 2011