FILE - NH houses, homes, neighborhood

The Bramber Green neighborhood is seen in Greenland, New Hampshire.

(The Center Square) – A state panel created by Gov. Chris Sununu to tackle the issue of homelessness is calling for a major expansion in housing to meet the state's demand.

As part of its strategic plan, the New Hampshire Council on Housing Stability is pushing for the construction of at least 13,500 new residential units in the state within three years.

"Years of under-production have resulted in a significant supply shortfall," the report's authors wrote. "The contributing factors to the issue of constrained supply are the cost of labor and materials, regulatory barriers and a scarcity of skilled construction labor on which developers depend."

The panel also recommends policy changes such as easing regulatory barriers to new development, protecting tenants from eviction and leveraging federal funds to help build new units and upgrade homeless shelters across the state.

Council members called for tapping into at least $45 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to cover the cost of implementing the plan over the next several years.

The plan follows a report last December calling for the state to invest an additional $10 million in affordable housing to increase options for renters and help reduce homelesses.

Last year, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority estimated that the state would need to build at least 20,000 more housing units to meet current demand.

In a letter included with the panel's report, Sununu calls the state's housing shortage a "significant challenge" that needs to be addressed.

"While affordable housing has been a challenge in the Granite State for the last several years, those challenges have been further exacerbated by the pandemic," he wrote.

Sununu said creating more affordable housing will help boost the state's economy by providing more job opportunities and workforce housing options.

“Access to safe, stable, and affordable housing has lasting impacts, creating stability for children, adults, and families,” the governor wrote.