Margolin: NH Senate has a chance to do something about affordable housing

Three bills could finally start to push NH’s housing market in a better direction

There seems to be news describing New Hampshire’s challenging housing market almost every week. “Affordable Housing Crisis,” reads the cover of Business NH Magazine, “Housing costs are the greatest obstacle to social mobility,” reports NH Business Review, and “shortages of affordable housing have widespread impacts on the state’s economy,” notes NHPR.

Yet, to date, the Legislature has done little to address the crisis. That could change this year.

The data are abundantly clear. New Hampshire has a housing shortage. The lack of supply means that the market is so tight and so expensive that it’s affecting workforce recruitment and retention, driving millennials out of state and increasing homelessness.

Three bills on the Senate floor this week could finally start to push New Hampshire’s housing market in a better direction:

  1. Senate Bill 15 would make a significant appropriation to New Hampshire’s affordable housing fund that provides below market-rate loans to incentivize the market to build more affordable housing. Every other New England state has made major investments in their affordable housing trust funds. It’s time for New Hampshire to do the same.
  2. Senate Bill 306 would create a housing appeals board and provide more efficient review of housing cases. A housing appeals board is a uniquely “New Hampshire” solution that preserves 100 percent of local control and provides some relief in the area of litigation costs and delays.
  3. Senate Bill 84 would expand homeless services to equip homeless service providers with more evidence-based tools to address the increase in homelessness and enhance homelessness prevention.

So let’s do this. All of the bills above received ought-to-pass recommendations from their respective committees. Now it’s up to the full Senate to continue this positive momentum and finally prioritize creating sustainable and thriving local economies by making sure that everyone in New Hampshire has a place to call home.

Elissa Margolin is director of Housing Action NH.

Categories: Opinion