New Hampshire Workforce Housing Law - Effective July 2009
It's no secret that the relatively high cost of renting or owning a home in many New Hampshire communities has escalated over the years. The recent decline of median sales prices and lower interest rates has provided some relief but only in the short term. Teachers, policemen and other civil servants can't afford to live in the towns they serve. Companies have difficulty in retaining and attracting employees as the compensation packages do not provide for the quality of life individuals and families seek. New Hampshire continues to lose its' younger population as the opportunities in other states offer a better future.
State, regional and local business organizations began to address this issue in 2006 and finally, the state of New Hampshire has passed legislation (SB342) that requires cities and towns to provide for "workforce housing". Municipalities have been informed that the stated purpose is:
1. The state of New Hampshire is experiencing a shortage of housing that is affordable to working households. This housing shortage poses a threat to the state's economic growth, presents a barrier to the expansion of the state's labor force, undermines state efforts to foster a productive and self-reliant workforce, and adversely affects the ability of many communities to host new businesses.
2. Achieving a balanced supply of housing, which requires increasing the supply of workforce housing, serves a statewide public interest, and constitutes an urgent and compelling public policy goal.
3. The purpose of this act is to clarify the requirements of Britton v. Chester (134 N.H. 439 (1991)) and to provide additional guidance for complying with those requirements to local officials and the public.
4. Section 2 of this act is intended to provide the maximum feasible flexibility to municipalities in exercising the zoning powers under RSA 674 consistent with their obligation to provide reasonable opportunities for the development of workforce housing, and is not intended to create a system of statewide land use regulation or a statewide zoning process.
Each community must now take the responsibility to address this issue and change their zoning ordinances, sub-division regulations and be pro-active in offering options to developers and builders to provide "workforce housing". Some towns have "affordable housing" ordinances that may comply or could with minor changes. Certain communities will "delay" the process to see how others solve the issues addressed in the new legislation.
We look forward to the day that all communities fulfill their responsibility to provide affordable housing for all citizens. Affordability for first home buyers will stimulate the New Hampshire real estate market and growing families can move up from condominium and starter homes. New and existing businesses will once again look to New Hampshire as a desirable location to build their companies, provide jobs and contribute to the economy and support their communities.