Keep rental housing affordable

During a conference this week at Saint Anselm College, officials with the New Hampshire Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau said an individual needs to make more than $22 per hour to afford an average two-bedroom apartment in the Granite State.

The problem with that is, it was revealed, the average renter in New Hampshire earns only $15 per hour. That means many are struggling to find affordable housing.

“Affordable housing is critical to attracting and retaining young people in our state and supporting our aging population at the same time,” U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said during the event, which was covered by the Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Pam Patenaude joined Hassan, U.S. Reps. Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter, both D-N.H., and Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig for the forum. Officials declared New Hampshire’s situation a “crisis.”

A real estate developer who spoke at the forum said addressing the affordable housing shortage in the state will benefit the New Hampshire workforce.

“I look at it this way: housing brings people, people bring the workforce,” Dick Anagnost, president of Anagnost Investments, said. “The workforce brings business and business brings economic development and prosperity.”

Considering the city’s relative proximity to Boston, it stands to reason that a typical rental unit in Nashua would cost more than one in a rural part of the state. And certainly, real estate investors are entitled to profits and returns on their investments.

Still, the numbers revealed this week are alarming. A study performed earlier this year by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, showed the state had nearly 2,000 people considered homeless. Although the reasons for homelessness can be multiple, the relatively high cost of rental units does not help the situation.

Elected officials, real estate developers and other community leaders must work together in the effort to ensure that New Hampshire maintains enough affordable housing for those who have lived here for many years, as well as for those hoping to move to the area for career or educational opportunities.