A recently completed workforce housing project in Londonderry was completely renter occupied in the first two weeks the units were on the market.
“That has never happened before,” NeighborWorks Executive Director Robert Tourigny said. “It usually takes a few months to rent them all out. We think this project is a testament to how strong the demand is for this type of housing in Londonderry.”
NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire, a non-profit whose mission is to provide affordable housing in the region, celebrated the completion of the Townhomes at Whittemore Place with 75 guests, including local and town officials, at an Aug. 5 dedication ceremony.
The $8.8 million development project, which features 45 new two- and three-bedroom rental apartments, is the first development constructed under the Town’s workforce housing ordinance, according to a press release.
“I started making presentations to the town’s housing task force in 2007, and the Town Council in 2009 and 2010. We started working with Planning staff in 2005 to convey the message there is a need for this type of housing,” Tourigny said. housing,” Tourigny said. “It took a few years. This project was not feasible a few years ago, before the Town’s Zoning Ordinance changed.”
Tourigny noted the permitting process for the project was uncomplicated, as the project didn’t require any variances to the Town’s Zoning Ordinance.
The townhome-style units at Whittemore Place are available to renters with a total income between 50 and 60 percent of the area median family income – at least $39,700 but below $47,640 for a family of four.
The monthly rent for an apartment ranges from $975 to $1,125, including heat and hot water.
In Londonderry, almost 200 units of affordable housing are under construction or have been approved (including the 45 units recently completed as part of the NeighborWorks development), and all rental units in the Town are priced at or below what is considered affordable.
Additionally, rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Londonderry ranges from $760 to $1,150, with most units below the $1,440 affordable rate.
Still, although a large percentage of the Town’s housing stock is affordable, Town Planner Cynthia May told the Planning Board at a recent meeting that as time passes and new housing is built, the proportion of affordable housing available to the current broad economic spectrum of residents will continue to diminish.
The Town must provide reasonable and realistic opportunities for the development of workforce housing, and workforce housing of some type must be allowed in a majority of land areas where residential uses are permitted, according to Geographic Information Systems Manager John Vogl. It’s the responsibility of the Town to demonstrate its compliance with the law.
The Planning Board recently voted unanimously to send a proposed Zoning Ordinance amendment relative to workforce housing to the Town Council for approval.
The purpose of the amendment is to bring the Town into greater compliance with state law related to workforce housing, and to provide for enhanced housing opportunities throughout town.
The amendments are also intended to encourage a greater variety of workforce housing rental options, such as the townhome-style units offered at Whittemore Place and accessory dwelling units, which are in accordance with the Town’s residential character.
“The Town needed this type of housing badly, and we are pleased with the outcome,” Tourigny said.