Ask the Experts: New Hampshire Housing
Thanks to a robust economy and attractive amenities throughout the state, the need for housing is on the rise. From apartments, townhomes and condos to refurbished historic projects, New Hampshire builders are racing to keep up with demand. That’s where the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority comes in. We reached out to Rob Dapice, managing director, Management & Development Division, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, to learn how the Authority is helping to meet that growing need.
What role does New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA) play in helping builders create more housing?
Dapice: “New Hampshire Housing plays an important role in supporting the creation of new multifamily housing by offering various forms of financing to private and nonprofit developers willing to set aside a certain percentage of the new housing units for families and/or seniors who are at moderate- and lower-income levels. These financing products include low-rate, long-term loans through tax-exempt bonds; tax credits that incentivize private investment in new developments; and construction loans that are priced well below the market rate.
“In addition to those financing tools that help stimulate new multifamily development on the ‘supply side,’ New Hampshire Housing administers programs that provide direct assistance to renters and homebuyers. These Assisted Housing and Homeownership programs have helped tens of thousands of New Hampshire families find decent, affordable housing, serving as an important stabilizing force on the ‘demand side’ of New Hampshire’s housing economy.
“From a policy and planning perspective, New Hampshire Housing works with public officials and the Legislature to help foster a more inviting environment for housing development and the creation of more homes that meet the needs of New Hampshire’s residents and workforce. NHHFA also works with communities throughout the state in providing technical assistance to address locally identified planning needs to help them develop a diverse and affordable range of housing.”
What are the benefits to living in a downtown area, and who do you see taking advantage of that type of housing?
Dapice: “Living close to the amenities that one finds in New Hampshire’s downtown areas has broad appeal to people of all ages and all stages of life. This has resulted in a resurgence of development in many areas of the state. People are drawn to living downtown because of the proximity to entertainment, restaurants, work, transportation, healthcare and other services, as well as the ability to conveniently walk from home to a destination. The attraction of living downtown seems to resonate in particular with the two largest demographic groups in the state and nationally: baby boomers and millennials. As a result, market forces in certain thriving downtowns have driven both rents and house prices to levels much higher than ever seen in New Hampshire.”
What types of housing do you see there? And what cities in New Hampshire are seeing downtown housing become available?
Dapice: “The upsurge in market demand has resulted in new production of various housing types, including apartments, townhomes and condominiums. New Hampshire has 13 cities and we have seen (and financed) new residential development in the smallest (Franklin) as well as the largest (Manchester), along with Nashua, Keene, Rochester, Dover, Berlin, Lebanon and Concord, among others.”
Can you give an example of a recent successful downtown renovation project? What were the benefits of this project?
Dapice: “The Renaissance RENEW project in Manchester provided important neighborhood revitalization and preserved existing housing stock. New Hampshire Housing provided tax credits and financing to help a major property owner, NeighborWorks® Southern New Hampshire, consolidate ownership and make significant capital improvements in 100 apartment homes across the Queen City. This included interior and exterior improvements, including new siding, window replacement, new floors and painting. The refresh of these properties benefited the lives of the families living in those apartments, their neighborhoods and the city itself.
“CATCH Neighborhood Housing’s adaptive re-use and historic preservation redevelopment of the 1895 Franklin Light and Power Mill building has earned it several awards. New Hampshire Housing provided financing for this as it has for other CATCH housing developments. The rehabilitation of a historic but decrepit classic New Hampshire mill building in the center of the city created more housing downtown and made an important contribution to the community’s fortunes after decades of economic decline. The City of Franklin will receive nearly $55,000 in annual property taxes. The mill’s residents have nearby access to a park, Main Street businesses, the library and hospital.”
What types of improvements/upgrades tend to occur in these renovation projects?
Dapice: “The first improvements on most owners’ wish lists are those that are relevant to the life safety/fire protection and accessibility of the residents. Next comes energy-efficiency improvements, and many property owners are able to leverage rebates from their utility companies to replace boilers, lighting, appliances and fixtures. The building envelope is often upgraded, with new roofing and siding (or masonry repointing) often taking place. Finally, most projects have funds to upgrade interior and exterior finishes in ways that improve the lives of residents and enhance the longevity of the buildings.”