Lack of affordable rentals hurts families, communities, economy

Lori Beach and family

The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund’s Community Housing program promotes financial security and community stability by expanding the availability of rental housing for families of modest means. We do this by changing the ways affordable housing is produced and financed and by changing the laws and policies that influence housing development.

For many years, housing developers across the state have almost exclusively built expensive homes, which are more profitable than those for families with lower incomes. Communities reinforced this trend by creating zoning that discouraged the creation of affordable housing.

New Hampshire’s nonprofit housing organizations have fought both of these trends with multifamily housing that is well-designed, well-constructed and well-maintained.

Even so, the state has a small fraction of the housing it needs for its working families and people on fixed incomes. Waiting lists for rent assistance are years long. Many of our poorest families pay half of their income for rent; some pay even more. Homelessness is rising.

The lack of stable, affordable housing hurts families, the communities they live in and the state’s economy.

  • People who pay too much of their income for rent are less able to save for the future or to take advantage of opportunities to become financially secure.
  • Families are destabilized, and children’s education is disrupted, by frequent moves in search of lower rents.
  • Children’s health often suffers from living in poorly maintained apartments, and because so much of the family income goes to rent, they often lack nutrition and medical care.
  • The state’s rise in home prices and rents, coupled with much-slower wage growth, has dramatically increased homelessness among the state’s working poor.
  • The rising number of homelessness people strains the budgets of towns and cities that, by law, have to shelter them and provide for their basic needs.
  • When employees leave to seek cheaper housing, productivity suffers. Many employers fear the continued lack of affordable housing will hurt their ability to attract and retain skilled workers.