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Laconia Housing Authority Provides Housing, Senior Assistance and Community Support

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Located in downtown Laconia, the nonprofit Laconia Housing Authority (LHA) helps those of limited means get housing. LHA provides subsidized housing through federal government programs. The organization works through the federal Housing Choice Vouchers (previously known as Section 8), as well as having 311 of its own rental units: Sunrise Towers, Blueberry Place, Orchard Hill II and Northfield Village, Tavern Inn/Stafford House, Normandin Square.

Although started in 1950, the organization that has continually operated since October 1962. Serving 700 households each year, LHA housing varies with each facility. Some are age restricted to 62 and over, others have apartments for families and single adults of any age. As of 2011, all of their apartments are smoke free based on county regulations.

Recently revamping its application process, potential tenants can apply online through a more streamlined form. Applicants must meet income qualifications, as well as passing credit, criminal and landlord background checks. Executive Director Richard Weaver states, "The income limitations are adjusted for household size and are based on a percentage of the Belknap County median income."

Even with this application update, Weaver explains that the wait times for an apartment can be lengthy at six to 12 months, so their services are not immediate. For those with a Housing Choice Voucher that allows them to rent homes from outside parties, the wait is considerably longer. Weaver reports applicants who live or work in Belknap County can expect to wait about three years for housing.

"Laconia Housing Authority has a very positive relationship with the local landlord community," Weaver promises. A landlord must sign a Housing Assistance Payment contract with Laconia Housing Authority for that resident to use their Housing Choice Voucher. Weaver assures us that these rentals must pass an annual physical inspection to ensure that it is in safe and sanitary condition. He continues, "Laconia Housing Authority works closely with the landlords and the local fire department to facilitate this inspection process."

Aside from housing, LHA also provides extra assistance to seniors who live in certain facilities of theirs. This additional aid helps them continue to live in their own homes with meals, housekeeping, laundry service, emergency response, transportation and personal care. This senior-care program has kept over 250 elderly residents out of nursing homes, so they can more comfortably live in their residence.

LHA further serves the community by working with other nonprofits, such as United Way and Salvation Army. Helping with the Turkey Plunge benefit for the Salvation Army/Carey House homeless shelter is another way the organization aids the Laconia area.

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