Southern N.H. Commission Outlines Housing Needs

Members of the Southern N.H. Planning Commission (SNHPC) appeared at a recent Planning Board meeting and discussed the need for more housing in the region.
Executive Director of the SNHPC, Sylvia von Aulock, was presenting their findings along with Senior GIS Analyst, Zachary Swick, to address housing needs.
“We went through a lot of work with all the regional planning commissions in creating public surveys,” said von Aulock. “48% of residents feel they are ‘housing burdened.'”
Surveys for 14 towns in the greater Manchester area, including Londonderry, indicated that most people in local communities favored a greater focus on moderate – and low-income housing compared to higher-income developments.
“Three out of five NH residents live in an urban area,” said Swick, who noted the state was different than more rural Vermont or more urbanized Massachusetts. “The median rent for the state has grown by 40% since 2018, that’s an annual increase of 7%. You can also see it with the purchase price with the homes.”
He tied growing home and rental prices and limited supply, adding that homes are “50% more expensive in NH today compared to 1990, even when inflation is taken into account.”
Swick estimated that Londonderry would need to build 1,660 new units to meet the growing demand. He based the numbers on a Fair Share Housing Production Model designed to project the number of housing units in an area based on several factors, including demand and median income. Much of the housing demand is expected to include older residents.
“When we first started having these discussions about ‘Fair Share’ there was a lot of controversy,” said von Aulock. “I can tell that every single town says ‘We are going to create diverse housing’ and then, an applicant comes in with some diverse housing, and the abutters come out, panicked, with whatever is in front of them. Most of the time we hear that people want walkable communities, they want them accessible, people want to walk.”
She praised Londonderry’s follow-through with diverse housing compared to many other towns in Southern NH.
SNHPC recommendations included zoning reform to allow multifamily establishments closer to business districts, incentives for employer housing, redevelopment of abandoned structures, and a greater focus on walkability with new housing.
Planning Board Chair, Arthur Rugg, promised he would “definitely put this to use when we update the Master Plan.”

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