New Hampshire communities are pushing for zoning changes

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Challenges and changes are afoot in Portsmouth, one of the state’s most expensive housing markets, as high housing costs and lack of availability continue to make it difficult to attract and retain many of the workers critical to New Hampshire’s economy. New Hampshire is believed to be short of about 30,000 units to retain and attract workers. Ruth Lewin Griffin Place is nearing completion and has 64 one and two bedroom units earmarked for workers housing construction. “The missing middle here in Portsmouth – people who are not among the lowest income people in our community, but the workers here in our world-class economy and our creative industries, hospitality and all the non-profit organizations,” said Craig Welch. Managing Director of Portsmouth Housing Authority. Nearly 250 people have applied for a lease so far, which costs half of anything else in the city. However, in the time it took to build Griffin Place, the city lost more affordable housing than it gained. “We have to find ways to speed up the process because it’s not like we’re keeping up, we’re actually going backwards right now,” Welch said. Portsmouth City Council established a Housing Committee to review policies and zoning that would allow for more working-class housing. “Whether it’s single family homes or the elimination of open space to demand affordable housing, we’re looking at everything,” said Portsmouth Mayor Deaglan McEachern. The city is already working on new codes and ordinances to help. “In two cases, the planning committee has currently approved projects, but with the proviso that a certain number of units must be reserved for workers’ housing,” Welch said. Our housing committee is reviewing any existing incentives we’re being given to say, “Hey, we can do this and how do we maximize that,” McEachern said. “Because there’s a lot of development going on in Portsmouth right now, but we feel like we’re not getting what the community wants out of that development.” There are challenges and changes happening across the state.

Challenges and changes are afoot in Portsmouth, one of the state’s most expensive housing markets, as high housing costs and lack of availability continue to make it difficult to attract and retain many of the workers critical to New Hampshire’s economy.

It is estimated that New Hampshire is about 30,000 units short to retain and attract a workforce.

Ruth Lewin Griffin Place is nearing completion and has 64 one and two bedroom units earmarked for the construction of workers’ housing.

“The missing middle here in Portsmouth – people who are not among the lowest income people in our community, but the workers here in our world-class economy and our creative industries, hospitality and all the non-profit organizations,” said Craig Welch. Managing Director of Portsmouth Housing Authority.

Nearly 250 people have applied for a lease so far, which costs half of anything else in the city. However, in the time it took to build Griffin Place, the city lost more affordable housing than it gained.

“We have to find ways to speed up the process because it’s not like we’re keeping up, we’re actually going backwards right now,” Welch said.

Portsmouth City Council established a Housing Committee to review policies and zoning that would allow for more working-class housing.

“Whether it’s single family homes or the elimination of open space to demand affordable housing, we’re looking at everything,” said Portsmouth Mayor Deaglan McEachern.

The city is already working on new codes and ordinances to help.

“In two cases, the planning committee has currently approved projects, but with the proviso that a certain number of units must be reserved for workers’ housing,” Welch said.

Our housing committee is reviewing any existing incentives we’re being given to say, “Hey, we can do this and how do we maximize that,” McEachern said. “Because there’s a lot of development going on in Portsmouth right now, but there’s a feeling that we’re not getting what the community wants out of that development.”

There are challenges and changes nationwide.

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