A new study by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, detailing ways to address the state’s housing shortage, coincides with Gov. Chris Sununu’s release of a comprehensive plan on the issue.
As of the summer of 2019, the vacancy rate for two-bedroom apartments fell below 1 percent in all but one New Hampshire county, according to a news release from the governor’s office, and inventory of homes for sale is near record lows.
"This past summer I assembled a housing task force to develop recommendations to address our shortage, which has risen to crisis levels," Sununu said in the release. "I am proud to say that as a result of the work of the task force, my office, and a bipartisan group of young legislators, we are releasing the most comprehensive plan on housing that this State has ever seen.”
To provide a broader range of housing, the plan identifies three main objectives:
• Enhancing local control by providing communities the right tools to plan for the development of affordable housing
• Improving process predictability for all development, particularly workforce housing
• Accelerating investment in housing via tax restructuring and other programs
"Housing and economic development must go hand in hand," BEA Commissioner Taylor Caswell said in the release. "If we are going to continue our success in attracting a younger workforce to New Hampshire, we must have a much broader spectrum of housing for people at all stages in life. Enactment of these proposals will put us light years ahead of where we are right now in addressing this crisis."
The NHHFA data shows the state is dealing with “rising prices and climbing rents, alarmingly low vacancy rates and a persistent drop in availability of ‘affordable’ homes – priced under $300,000. These are daunting trends for New Hampshire’s young households, of which we desperately need more.”
Many younger residents also face rising levels of student loan debt, close to $37,000 in 2018, the study found.
The study also notes that in an address to NHHFA in October, futurist John Martin said, “In a state where population growth over the coming years is projected to be majority 65 and older, New Hampshire’s leaders will need to embrace a new model of economic development to be competitive. To attract the right workforce, New Hampshire will need to be a more attractive place than other regions.”