Selectmen debate housing assistance
Union Leader Correspondent
December 23. 2013 7:53PM
PLAISTOW - Selectmen are still looking at ways to streamline the process for tenants to receive public housing assistance from the town.
For the past two months, the board has been debating striking language from welfare regulations requiring tenants to obtain a certificate of occupancy from the town's building department to qualify for the town housing funds. Currently, the property owner is responsible for paying for that certificate of occupancy for the tenants in their buildings.Under wording in the town welfare guidelines, those certificates of occupancy are needed whether a tenant needs assistance and is moving into a new apartment or if they need assistance where they already live, even if it is a private home.Selectman Dan Poliquin, who is also a landlord, said he will not support regulations that require inspections.
Poliquin noted that the state's housing authority does not require the inspections for public assistance.“I have been a landlord since 1986 and have had tenants who have received Section 8 and other New Hampshire assistance and I have never been inspected,” he said, adding that the inspection clause was added into the town regulations.“As far as I'm concerned, the town does not have any business sticking its nose into how people live,” said Poliquin.
Selectman Joyce Ingerson said she believes the town should have something in place to make sure people who receive public assistance are living in decent conditions.Selectmen Chairman Robert Gray also said the town should have some sort of procedure in place to make sure people receiving public assistance are not in substandard housing, even if it is a voucher or affidavit system where the tenant and landlord agree that the housing is up to standard.Town Manager Sean Fitzgerald said he would not be opposed to a waiver or affidavit system.“I think that would suffice, we just need some acknowledgment that properties meet a minimum standard,” he said.
Ingerson requested that Fitzgerald review a similar process in Derry before coming back before selectmen at their Dec. 30 meeting.