Housing costs hit NH’s workforce, businesses

To the editor:

Coverage of the new report from the NH Housing Finance Authority (“NH rents continue to climb” on NHBR.com) reveals the true economic squeeze on today’s workforce in New Hampshire. The new median rent – now at an all-time high of $1,157 per month – is challenging to any worker who earns less than $3,800 a month or $45,600 a year.

Climbing rents are a result of a lack of supply of affordable rental housing. Unfortunately, New Hampshire’s workforce and businesses are paying the price.

High housing costs are not only challenging low-wage workers and their families, they are also a deterrent to young professionals deciding on whether to make New Hampshire home and to veterans returning from serving our country. Businesses considering their options for expansion are also looking closely at climbing rental housing costs.

It’s therefore not surprising that the Business and Industry Association’s Strategic Economic Plan for New Hampshire notes: “New Hampshire’s workforce will continue to move elsewhere for jobs if low-to-moderate income housing options are not available.”

It’s time for our state to take high housing costs seriously and recognize the serious implications of inaction. It’s worth noting that policymakers this year saw fit to include a small capital appropriation in New Hampshire’s Affordable Housing Fund. At $800,000, it’s far less than Maine’s recent investment of $30 million in its state housing fund to create affordable housing, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

New Hampshire needs to add about 24,000 affordable homes to close the “affordability gap” of available supply and market demand. Clearly, there is more work to do.

Elissa Margolin
Housing Action NH

Categories: Letters to the Editor, Opinion