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Bill would help electricians, contractors; fair canceled

June 24, 2020 GMT

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A bill supported by a group of U.S. senators, including Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, would help electricians, HVAC technicians, and other workers in the energy efficiency contractor industry during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

The bill would help the energy efficiency sector retain jobs and invest in training to create new opportunities in the workforce, Shaheen, a Democrat, said in a statement Wednesday. It would make available grants to allow businesses to rehire and reinvest in their employees. It also would create rebates for homeowners to invest in energy efficiency improvements.

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It’s called the “Hope for Homes Act of 2020.”

Shaheen noted the energy efficiency industry – which prior to the pandemic employed more than 2.3 million Americans – has been hit hard by the pandemic, shedding more than 400,000 jobs.

Other coronavirus-related developments in New Hampshire:

NO FAIR

The Deerfield Fair said Wednesday it is canceling this year’s festivities because of the coronavirus.

The 144th fair had been scheduled for Oct. 1-4.

“The health and wellbeing of our Members, community, vendors, exhibitors, and staff is important to us, “the organization said in a statement.

Next year’s fair has been scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 3.

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CROTCHED MOUNTAIN

Crotched Mountain, which serves people with disabilities, said it is closing its Greenfield campus after suffering financial hardships due to the coronavirus.

By Nov. 1, “we plan to have no more residents on our campus, nor in our off campus staffed adult group homes,” Ned Olney, president and CEO of the Crotched Mountain Foundation said a letter to the community Tuesday.

He said other programs would continue, such as Ready Set Connect Autism Centers, and Crotched Mountain Accessible Recreation and Sports.

Crotched Mountain first opened a rehabilitation center in 1953 to support people with polio.

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HOUSING CONCERNS

Housing industry experts in New Hampshire are warning that evictions could spike later this summer when tenant protections and enhanced unemployment benefits resulting from the coronavirus pandemic lapse.

New Hampshire’s eviction moratorium expires July 1 and the federal eviction ban under the CARES Act stops on July 25. The extra $600 in weekly unemployment benefits under the CARES Act ends July 31.

That poses challenges for tenants, the Caledonian-Record reports. Many have lost jobs during the pandemic and relied on state and federal assistance.

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“We’re very much in a position of waiting for the other shoe to drop,” said Ben Frost of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority during a call on housing needs led by U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan on Monday. “It seems like August is when we’re likely to see this perfect storm come together. You can see the radar, you can see it coming.”

Nearly half of the renters in New Hampshire were spending 50% or more of their income on housing before the outbreak.

New Hampshire plans to distribute $35 million in CARES Act funds for housing relief, half the “conservative estimate” that the state Housing Finance Authority recommended.

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THE NUMBERS

As of Wednesday, 5,598 people in New Hampshire had tested positive for the virus, an increase of 27. Four new deaths were reported, for a total of 347 people who have died from the coronavirus.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and the infirm, it can cause more severe illness and can lead to death.