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Affordable housing a key issue

As the countdown to New Hampshire’s First-In-The Nation Primary Election winds down, campaigns and key issues are heating up. There were more than 80 opportunities this week alone for area voters to meet face-to-face with candidates on the Democratic ticket.

Regardless of party, there is one issue that unites voters: lack of affordable housing, a prime concern in the Granite State.

During a campaign stop at Nashua Community College on Thursday, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in her bid for the White House said, “We’ve got a housing crisis in this country. Safe, affordable housing should be a human right.”

Warren isn’t alone in that opinion. Perhaps no city in the Granite State is more familiar with this than Nashua.

Families in our area not only struggle to find housing, but many also must hold down multiple jobs just to be able to afford a small, one-bedroom apartment.

The 2019 New Hampshire Residential Rental Cost Survey (www.nhhfa.org) shows rental rates continue to increase at a staggering pace.

In 2014, the Gate City had a median monthly gross rent of $1,222 for a two-bedroom apartment. Five years later, that number jumped more than 20 percent to $1,506, and that’s just for basic, small accommodations.

Increased rent can be attributed to multiple factors in our area, with many landlords increasing tenant costs each year, passing along property tax and other fee hikes onto renters.

A lack of inventory also is to blame, with increased population and commuters snatching up available housing, sometimes even before units hit the market.

While Nashua and Merrimack are making small strides in adding housing and attracting developers, the demand far outpaces availability. That leads to homelessness for so many, including veterans, single parents and those who are one paycheck away from financial disaster when health or other emergencies may occur.

All presidential candidates in the primary election need to be on notice of how important this issue is in New Hampshire and in our nation. Granite State voters should do their research and know their statistics. They will use that knowledge in the voting booth when vetting candidates Tuesday.

Telegraph readers will have an opportunity to learn more about the candidates and critical issues in the newspaper’s primary election guide, which publishes Sunday and will appear online at www.nashuatelegraph.com.

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