Meet the new head of New Hampshire Housing: Robert Dapice
Agency is ‘a force for good,’ he says
Longtime housing authority manager Robert Dapice has been named the successor to Dean Christon, who will retire as executive director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority at the end of the year.
Dapice told Manchester Ink Link he hopes to continue the important work of New Hampshire Housing by listening to team members, the organization’s network of partners who develop multi-family housing and municipalities.
“New Hampshire Housing has been around for more than 40 years. It has helped to stabilize the state’s housing landscape through a lot of tumultuous times like the Great Recession,” Dapice said.
Dapice will begin work as executive director on Jan. 1, 2022. He is currently the head of the Housing Authority’s management and development division, which works with developers to help finance and build multi-family housing. He has been managing director of that division since 2019, and was previously the director of housing development since 2017.
Dapice has worked at New Hampshire Housing for eight years. He and his family moved to New Hampshire in 2010 to work for North Branch Construction in Concord until 2014.
A Dartmouth College graduate and an Army veteran who served one tour in Iraq in 2005 and 2006 in the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, Dapice, after leaving the military, got a job as a project manager for a commercial construction company in Washington, D.C.
During his time at North Branch, Dapice said he came to learn what a “force for good” New Hampshire Housing was, particularly through its educational programs and how it spread awareness about the ways housing fits into the statewide landscape.
“It really fascinated me. It wasn’t anything that I had any sort of background in, but it was a key factor in deciding to apply for the job here,” he said.
During the past eight years, he has learned a lot about the state’s evolving housing needs and the ways the marketplace has changed rapidly. He said he’s aware of just how severe a problem is and “how critically undersupplied we are in terms of the housing we need to meet the needs of the population, and the effects it has on our economy and the health and stability of our most vulnerable people.”
The need for more affordable housing of all kinds has been made ever more clear in the past couple of years.
“The pandemic really has highlighted and exacerbated housing challenges across the state,” Dapice said.
Dapice intends to support a new bill in the Legislature that would provide municipalities with an “affordable housing toolkit” that would provide resources and information to land use boards, in an effort to ease barriers to multi-family and workforce housing projects. A similar bill was proposed in the last session but did not get passed, he said.
He also supports the efforts of the newly formed Housing Appeals Board.
While Dapice said he recognizes there is often a dissonance between local regulations that are restrictive to workforce housing and ordinance language that speaks in favor of it, he said most of the conversations on how to close that gap are happening at the local level rather than the state level.
“It would be nice to see change happening at every level, because I think awareness of the issue has changed at every level,” Dapice said.
So far, New Hampshire Housing has been administering the emergency rental assistance program and approved payouts of up to $70 million. That’s about 9,600 households supported with an average assistance of about $7,300. Thousands more applications are pending.
They are currently working to stand up a similar federally funded program for homeowners that is expected to roll out early next year.
“That’s a really important effort that we’re working on now,” Dapice said.
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