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Key NH Housing Panel Recommends 88,000 New Housing Units by 2040

Published Tuesday Nov 7, 2023

Author Ethan DeWitt, NH Bulletin

Key NH Housing Panel Recommends 88,000 New Housing Units by 2040

A panel of housing experts is recommending that New Hampshire aim to build 88,000 new housing units by 2040 – echoing recent research that found that target is necessary to adequately reverse the state’s housing crisis. 

At its Oct. 24 meeting, the Council on Housing Stability agreed to adopt the goal, which follows the Fair Share Housing Production Model released in April, produced by New Hampshire Housing, a state agency. 

New Hampshire Housing’s analysis is far higher than previous estimates, in part due to a new projection technique that factors in the state’s anticipated population growth. State housing experts have often cited previous analyses showing the state needs to immediately add 20,000 units to solve demand. But the new model indicates the state will need 59,934 units by 2030 and 88,395 units by 2040.

The numbers come from a combination of assessments by the state’s nine Regional Planning Commissions, and factor in both job growth and population projections. 

Rob Dapice, CEO of New Hampshire Housing and a member of the council, called the new analysis an “invaluable foundation.”

“We now have in-depth reports that examined supply and production, affordability challenges, housing needs, and projected housing demand as the basis for understanding and planning for New Hampshire’s housing needs,” he said in a statement last week.

But meeting the goal will be more difficult than agreeing to it. New Hampshire has struggled to keep its housing production on pace to reach the previous 20,000-unit target, even as the state used COVID relief funds to incentivize developers and towns to build new buildings and units through the InvestNH program. 

The persistent low level of inventory has kept New Hampshire’s house prices high this fall even as other areas of the country are seeing a price decrease, according to a September monthly report from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors. The median sales price in the state was $490,000 in September, 11 percent higher than it was 12 months earlier, according to the association. 

Formed by an executive order by Gov. Chris Sununu in 2020, the Council on Housing Stability is made up of 40 stakeholders, ranging from mayors to health officials, to representatives of advocacy organizations, to commissioners of the departments of safety, transportation, employment security, and military and veterans affairs. The council must produce three-year plans to tackle housing availability, affordability, and homelessness. 

Its last three-year plan, issued in 2021, included recommendations to remove regulatory barriers for affordable housing projects, deploy public funds to support new development, and find better ways to integrate state and local governments to support housing.

The new housing targets have already spurred some cities to make changes to their building codes to allow more development, according to a press release from the council. In Keene, it prompted the city to allow for more density by changing rules around accessory dwelling units, cluster developments, and more. 

“Keene is doing what it can to meet our fair share but it is clear that the greater region will play a vital role in any effective, long-term solutions for all,” Keene City Manager Elizabeth Dragon said in a statement. 

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