The jobs are where the apartments aren’t.

Demographics and geography challenge renters in the Granite State.

Young and old New Hampshire residents (about 66,300 of them) are spending too much of their household income on rent. The median monthly rental cost for two-bedroom units has consistently increased, including a 12 percent spike in the last three years. Half of all households in rental units earn less than $40,800 per year, meaning they can’t afford almost 70 percent of market rate units in New Hampshire. This dynamic, coupled with the low statewide rental vacancy rate of 1.5 percent, creates an extreme demand for affordable units at the low end of the market that isn’t met by current rental housing stock. The impact is felt by low- to moderate-income renters who pay a greater percent of their income on housing costs.

There has been some renter household income growth in the last few years, but it has not been keeping pace with the rising tide of rental costs. A renter would have to earn 124 percent of the median income, or more than $46,000 a year, to be able to afford the statewide median cost of a typical two-bedroom apartment with utilities. As New Hampshire ages, shifting demographics can increase pent-up demand at the low end of the market, causing young professionals and down-sizing seniors to compete for already scarce units in their price range.

renter-households

New Hampshire also has the highest levels of student debt in the United States, with an average of $36,100 per graduating student. Student debt, job quality, and high rental costs make it difficult for a young professional to save for a down payment and improve their situation through ownership. The disjointed rental supply can force young professionals to continue living with their parents, gravitate towards the Boston labor market, or leave the state entirely. One example is Tyler Carignan, a lifelong New Hampshire resident who left the state in 2016 for the Massachusetts labor market.

“It just seems like most of the good opportunities for young professionals are located in or near major cities,” the 26-year-old said.

Northwest vs. Southeast housing inventory

The counties closest to the Boston labor market (Hillsborough, Merrimack, Strafford, and Rockingham) demonstrate the highest rents in the state. Holding 77 percent of the state’s rental units, these four counties have significantly lower rental availability when compared to other parts of the state, and the concentrated demand drives rental costs up further.

Rental costs are misaligned with wages in concentric regions beyond the commute to the Boston labor market. Towns in Grafton County, like Bristol, don’t necessarily generate incomes that support the expensive rental market. Bristol’s largest percentage of rental households earn between $20,000 and $34,999 a year, with two out of three households in that threshold paying more than 30 percent of their incomes on rent alone. At the same time, most of the counties in the north and west saw no increase in rental cost in 2016, and have higher rental availability although even in those counties it’s a landlord’s market.

If you rent in northern or western New Hampshire, the apartments are where the jobs aren’t.

county-vacancy-rate

Affordable housing will be a keystone issue in economic resurgence. Given New Hampshire’s low unemployment rate, business development generates a demand for labor that can be met if workers have an affordable place to live. As the rental shortage comes to a head, recovery may be signaled by millennials buying homes and freeing up rental units at the low end of the market—if they have the ability to save for a down payment.

 

Four Ways to Help Homeless Veterans in New Hampshire

homeless - pixabayThe United States has set a lofty goal—to end veteran homelessness. Across New Hampshire, the Governor’s office, local and state officials, homeless service providers, public housing authorities, veteran service organizations, nonprofits, and state and federal agencies are working together to reach what’s called “functional zero.” Functional zero means a community has met criteria that ensure once a homeless veteran is identified, he or she is quickly placed in housing with a timeline and a plan for access to permanent housing and supportive services.

However, even with a comprehensive campaign, these agencies and service providers need the public’s help in identifying and reaching unsheltered veterans. If you live in New Hampshire, here are several ways that you can connect veterans to housing and services.

  1. Reach out to local organizations or 2-1-1 NH. There are a variety of programs and organizations across the state that are designed specifically for veterans experiencing homelessness. Harbor Homes, Liberty House, and the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) Program are just a sampling. If you are a homeless veteran or know a veteran who is homeless, please reach out to one of these programs, or dial 2-1-1 to find out what resources are available in your area.
  2. If you are a property owner or landlord, consider making apartments available to VASH voucher holders. In today’s tight rental market, it is often difficult for veterans who are homeless to find stable housing that is safe, clean and affordable. The VASH Program, which offers Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) rental assistance along with case management through the Department of Veterans Affairs, is one way that veterans can find their way home again. Through these vouchers, veterans pay an affordable percentage of their income toward rent, and the landlord receives a check for the remainder of the rent in the form of a Housing Assistance Payment. If you have a rental property, consider accepting VASH vouchers. First Lady Michelle Obama has released video encouraging property owners to help in this effort: watch it here.
  3. If you are a service provider, participate in Ask the Question. Ask the Question, an effort through the Department of Health and Human Services, is a statewide initiative to encourage service providers from a variety of sectors to ask clients if they or a family member has ever served in the military. The initiative also helps assist providers with what to do next if the answer is yes. Learn more on their website.
  4. Get informed. Want to learn more about the overall effort to end veteran homelessness, homelessness in general, and what other communities are doing to reach functional zero? Check out these resources made available through the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. For more local information, email SSVF@nhpartnership.com or dial 1-800-273-8255. You can also visit the Department of Veterans Affairs website.

New Program Offers Home Repair and Rehabilitation to New Hampshire Veterans

Builders Care NH Foundation Board of Directors (from left): Richard Benson, President; Tom Dustin, Treasurer; Dave Tille, Director; Tim Sheedy, Director; Buddy Champney, Vice President; Lynette Rogers, Secretary; Dean Christon, Executive Director, New Hampshire Housing

Builders Care NH Foundation Board of Directors (from left): Richard Benson, President; Tom Dustin, Treasurer; Dave Tille, Director; Tim Sheedy, Director; Buddy Champney, Vice President; Lynette Rogers, Secretary; Dean Christon, Executive Director, New Hampshire Housing

Hammers for Veterans to meet need for home improvements

Veterans in need of accessibility improvements or repairs to their home can now access funding to help with the needed work. A new program from the New Hampshire Homebuilders Association called Hammers for Veterans has been formed, and it recently received $25,000 in funding from New Hampshire Housing.

The goal of Hammers for Veterans is to raise funds for providing professional home construction related services to New Hampshire veterans and their families. The program was created after it was discovered that many returning, as well as currently deployed, armed service personnel are in need of renovations to their existing residences. Many have service related disabilities and the renovations may include installation of a wheelchair ramp, remodeling a bathroom, or widening doors to remove barriers in the home that impede mobility. Other needs are simply home repair and upkeep that may not be in reach of the veteran.

The program will provide guidance through the construction bidding process and manage construction activity.

In addition to the grant from New Hampshire Housing the program raises funds annually through the Hammers for Veterans Auction. The online auction (http://www.biddingforgood.com/hammersforveterans) takes place each March in conjunction with the annual New Hampshire State Home Show.

Veterans or their families who have interest in applying for program assistance should contact Andrea Chrisstoffels, Housing Services Manager, Easter Seals NH Military & Veteran Services, at 603-851-3680 or achrisstoffels@eastersealsnh.org. Hammers for Veterans is a program of the Builders Care NH Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation.

“The members of the New Hampshire Home Builders Association are extremely grateful for what our armed services people have done for us and continue to do,” said Dick Benson, Chair of Builders Care NH. “The members of our association and our industry are pleased that we do our small part to thank you by helping with needed home repairs and rehabilitation services.”

“Hammers for Veterans fills an important need for current and former members of the military and is a great way to thank them for their service to our country,” said Dean Christon, Executive Director of New Hampshire Housing. “We’re pleased to support this new initiative so it can make a meaningful impact on the lives of service members in our state.”

Help Us Give Away a $200 Visa Gift Card!

New Hampshire Housing is giving away a $200 Visa gift card to a New Hampshire nonprofit. Our staff members nominated five organizations from around the state, but we need help making the final decision.

From 9 a.m. on Monday, January 20, until 4:30 p.m. on Friday, January 31, make your voice heard by voting for one of our nominees: Liberty House in Manchester; the New Hampshire Food Bank; The Friendly Kitchen in Concord; the Manchester Homeless Services Center; or End 68 Hours of Hunger.

The nonprofit that receives the most votes will receive the gift card.

Voting is easy:

1.) Like our page, www.facebook.com/NewHampshireHousing.

2.) Visit http://woobox.com/cee44q or click on the “Visa Gift Card Giveaway” box at the top of our page (next to the “Likes” box).

3.) Click “vote” under the organization you want to receive the gift card.

4.) Spread the word! Encourage your friends to join us in helping local nonprofits by inviting them to participate in the poll, or share the poll on your timeline. You can vote once a day, so come back and vote again to give an extra boost to the nonprofit of your choice!

When you’re voting, make sure to authorize the poll application so your choice is counted. If you have questions about what happens when you authorize an application, click here.

The winning organization will be announced on February 3.

To learn more about our nominees, keep your eyes peeled this week for our Facebook posts that highlight some of the great services these organizations provide in local communities and around the state.

Happy voting!

**Please note that any personal or demographic information associated with your vote will be viewed only by staff members at New Hampshire Housing and will be treated according to our Privacy Policy. We will not publicize, sell, or otherwise publically distribute any information associated with your vote. It will only be used for internal measurement purposes to improve your Facebook page experience. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Facebook.**

Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity Breaks Ground with Help of New Hampshire Housing

From left: Brian McCarthy, Executive Director, Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity; Kate Ransom, President, Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity; new homeowner; Ignatius MacLellan, Managing Director, Homeownership, New Hampshire Housing

From left: Brian McCarthy, Executive Director, Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity; Kate Ransom, President, Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity; new homeowner; Ignatius MacLellan, Managing Director, Homeownership, New Hampshire Housing

Pemi-Valley Habitat for Humanity is turning what was once a plot of steep, difficult land in Bristol into a neighborhood of affordable housing, thanks in part to a program with New Hampshire Housing. The partnership is part of a larger collaboration between Habitat for Humanity affiliates statewide and New Hampshire Housing that is helping low-income families realize their dreams of homeownership.

Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit that works to strengthen families and communities through affordable homeownership opportunities. For almost ten years, New Hampshire Housing has helped Habitat affiliates through loans to families and, in the case of Pemi-Valley Habitat, assistance with securing land for projects.

New Hampshire Housing owned the plot of land in Bristol but was unable to sell it to Pemi-Valley Habitat until the first home in the development was completed and sold. Pemi-Valley secured a rare Community Development Finance Authority grant while they leased the land at a low rate from New Hampshire Housing. They used this grant to prepare the land so they could begin work on their vision of an affordable, four-house neighborhood. This past May, the first home in the development was sold and Habitat was able purchase the land.

Families who participate in Habitat’s program can apply for up to $15,000 from New Hampshire Housing for a no interest, no payment downpayment loan. Since Habitat selects families far in advance of a home’s closing, families have time to work with both Habitat and New Hampshire Housing on financial fitness and learning the responsibilities of homeownership.

The downpayment also benefits the Habitat affiliate by acting as seed money. The $15,000 from New Hampshire Housing is viewed as an investment in the project and can then be leveraged to help obtain other grants and funding.

Since the program’s beginning in 2004, 39 families have used New Hampshire Housing’s Habitat loans, and four more loans are currently in the works. Thirteen Habitat affiliates participate.

Families interested in working with Habitat for Humanity and applying for a New Hampshire Housing loan should contact their local Habitat affiliate for information.