Regional Effort to Assess Housing Needs, Find Solutions
- February 18, 2022
KEENE, NH – Recent trends and challenges affecting housing in New Hampshire will be studied as part of a project conducted by Southwest Region Planning Commission (SWRPC) and the eight other regional planning commissions in the State, resulting in nine assessments to assist communities in creating solutions to meet future demand. SWRPC’s regional housing needs assessment will evaluate the status of the housing market for all of Cheshire County, western Hillsborough County and the Town of Langdon in Sullivan County. The last such Housing Needs Assessment for the region was conducted in 2014.
“Safe, clean, and affordable housing is a key goal in obtaining and maintaining a thriving and vibrant community,” said Tom Mullins, Chairman of SWRPC’s Board of Directors. “And the work to be performed by the SWRPC in preparing the Housing Needs Assessment is an important first step in helping our member communities achieve that important goal.”
This effort is being conducted in partnership with the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs’ Office of Planning and Development and the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, and is funded by an American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund grant.
Affordable housing is crucial to the New Hampshire economy and the Monadnock region. The low housing inventory, increased population and rising prices affects families who want to live and work in the state.
A recent Statewide housing analysis conducted by the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA) shows that the volume of home sales and the length of time homes were on the market in 2021 decreased from 2020 while median home prices increased during that same period, reflecting the impact of having a low inventory of available housing. Statewide, building permits for housing fell precipitously during the Great Recession of the late 2000s, and have yet to recover to the level of permit activity in the mid 2000s.
A 2021 NHHFA rental market survey indicates that the vacancy rate for rental units in Cheshire and Hillsborough County dropped to 1.7% and 0.9%–among the lowest levels recorded over the last decade—and median gross rent for 2-bedroom units rose 5.3% and 28.6% from 2020 in each county, respectively.
The year-long Regional Housing Needs Assessment project launching this month begins with a community survey, which will be conducted by each regional planning commission, and encourages residents to share what impact the housing situation has had on them; what has worked, and what needs to change. The link to SWRPC’s survey is available at https://www.swrpc.org/housing/survey/.
“It’s very important that we hear from a variety of stakeholders throughout the region to get an accurate picture of how the housing market is affecting their lives,” said J. B. Mack, SWRPC Principal Planner and the lead on the project. “In addition to the household survey, we will be reaching out to key stakeholders such as municipal officials, developers, employers, social service agencies and others in the coming months.”
In undertaking the project, SWRPC will use this survey data, along with other qualitative and quantitative data from a variety of sources to provide resources, strategies, and recommendations to municipalities to assist in their efforts to address housing challenges.
For more information, visit https://www.swrpc.org/housing/.