Gov. Chris Sununu asked the legislature on Wednesday to advance his $100M InvestNH housing fund plan he first proposed in February during the State of the State address.

Funded by American Relief Plan funds, Sununu first outlined a multi-level plan to create what he calls "workforce housing."

"As our state grows and economy grows stronger, we have all these businesses moving in. Opportunities to expand workforce continues to be our number one challenge, and one of those barriers to getting more workforce and enticing more folks to come in," Sununu said.

The first part would be $60 million in matching investment in multifamily housing projects. The second part would $30 million in "rewards" to incentivize communities to speed the process with a goal of construction permits being approved within six months. The third part would create a $5 million demolition grant fund to offset the cost of tearing down old, dilapidated buildings.

“As New Hampshire’s population grows and our economy gets stronger, workforce continues to be a top challenge — and the number one barrier is housing,” Sununu said. “Our InvestNH Housing fund will incentivize towns to build more housing, break down barriers at the local permitting level, and grow our economy, our tax base, and bring businesses in.”

Sununu was flanked by members of his administrators and the business community that helped him make the case. The legislature votes on the measure on Friday.

“While businesses continue to see expansion and growth, our state unemployment rate has dropped to 2.5% and our vacancy rate is under 1%," Business and Economics Affairs Commissioner Taylor Caswell said. "This combination is a significant threat to our economy and makes this one time investment of $100 million critical and our best opportunity in a generation to address this crisis.”

Even before Sununu spoke, the state Democratic party didn't like the plan. In a statement released before he spoke, the state party criticized Sununu for using pandemic relief funds he didn't support.

“Under Governor Sununu’s watch, New Hampshire is seeing skyrocketing property taxes and a dire housing crisis. President Biden and our federal delegation secured over $100 million in federal funding to increase affordable housing options through the American Rescue Plan, while Sununu did absolutely nothing. Sununu said he would have voted ‘no’ on the American Rescue Plan, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking credit for this funding," the state party said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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