Today, New Hampshire is facing the tightest and most expensive housing market in its history. As a life long NH resident, business leader and housing developer, I can say with confidence that it has never been as bad as this.
You would think that NH’s low supply and high demand for more affordable housing would be good news for a builder like me. After all, all of my properties are fully leased and rents are higher than ever. I should be happy, right?
But the truth is that builders want to respond to the market demand for housing resulting from an artificial shortage created by exclusionary zoning. These business men want to help address NH’s workforce shortages and they want to contribute to a prosperous New Hampshire. People forget that builders are taxpayers, too. I am a lifelong member of my community in Atkinson, NH and know firsthand the effect exclusionary zoning has on low- and middle-income residents.
And so question remains—where will New Hampshire’s workforce live?
Fortunately, there is legislation that passed the State Senate and is currently before the New Hampshire House that can help alleviate the scarcity of housing.
SB 557 proposes creating a Housing Appeals Board that serves as an alternative to trial court. Similar to the Board of Tax and Land Appeals, the Housing Appeals Board would be able to review local planning and zoning board decisions and provide a faster and less expensive appeals process for builders and property owners. This alternative to trial court will ensure that renters and young families are not asked to pay higher rents or home sales prices due to costly litigation.
This is truly a New Hampshire solution to an ominous situation facing our state. We need to make sure all of our systems are working as efficiently as they can as builders try to respond to market demand. Many voices are calling for the passage of SB 557, including Governor Sununu, the NH Planners Association, the Business and Industry Association, Housing Action NH, NH Homebuilders Association and the NH Association of Realtors.
This is a common-sense approach to ensuring housing for workers who come to New Hampshire to meet the demands of our growing job market. I urge our House members to vote yes on SB 557 and be a part of the solution rather than contributing to the crisis.