Municipal Welfare Officials and Administrators,
Thank you for your continued commitment to meet your legal and humanitarian obligations. Also, for increasingly being an inside influential voice of social services within our city and town halls.
I am pleased to inform you that on July 28, Governor Sununu signed SB 110 into law, which clarifies and updates residency and municipalities of origin, for municipal local welfare purposes. Persons will not change original residency, for municipal local welfare purposes, while residing in hospitals, correctional facilities, treatment program centers, and emergency sheltering services, including motels and hotels, when paid for by municipalities or other service assistance providers.
Persons who leave emergency housing of their own free will, or removed from emergency housing for non-compliance and remain in a situation of homelessness, shall not be considered to have changed their city or town of origin residency status, for municipal local welfare purposes, for 30 days.
Persons assisted by a municipality, or other assistance providers, with emergency housing assistance in a hotel or motel in another municipality, who then self-pays for a consecutive 30 days without municipal or other provider assistance shall, for municipal local welfare purposes, transition residency to the new municipality.
Additional language indicates “Municipalities shall communicate and coordinate assistance options with each other, including reimbursements from municipalities of origin, pursuant to RSA 165:20-a.” Although communication and coordination when solution finding for persons in common is current practice for many, it is not practiced by all. The new language does not simply suggest communication and coordination among municipalities; it expects it.
As an association, we can take pride that SB 110 mirrors much of our 2022 association adopted “Ethics Resolution Agreement,” including our people centered safeguard language, indicating “Temporary urgent assistance may need to be provided to meet basic needs of transient individuals or residents of other municipalities.”
Your board of directors will review the improvements to RSA 165 and develop people centered municipal welfare navigation practices to share with you, including collaboratively communicating and coordinating assistance options between municipalities.
Initiatives to increase emergency housing and treatment program services are often met with municipal concern for increased financial liability. This improvement to existing law will maximize municipal support for current and additional services throughout our state by minimizing concerns of host municipality financial liability.
SB 110 is the most significant change to RSA 165 in decades and pragmatically targets areas of longtime concern, frustration, and fair practice. I would like to thank the eclectic coalition of supporters and collaborators, including, but not limited to, the City of Keene, primary bill sponsor Senator Donovan Fenton, support from NH Legal Aid, guidance from the NH Municipal Association, and shared knowledge from welfare administrators throughout the state, as they all made this improvement to our system of helping services possible.
I am honored to serve as president of our NH Local Welfare Administrators Association and with an elected board of directors that also believe in continuous improvement. It is only by continuing to work together, we can think forward, perform better, and achieve more.
Below is a link to SB 110.
I hope this information is helpful.