New Hampshire has a massive housing shortage. Andrew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy reported that “in December 2020, sales were up 25 percent over December 2019, and sales volume was up 49 percent, according to data tracked by the New Hampshire Association of Realtors.” Many new people are moving here and purchasing our housing supply.
Sales are beyond hot in our housing market. Cline explains that “a home spends an average of only 33 days on the market in New Hampshire, down 47.6 percent from the previous December. And the median sales price hit $349,900, up 16 percent.” The price of new or existing homes is continuing to climb with no end in sight.
Many prospective buyers or developers have probably experienced costly bidding wars brought on by this housing shortage. Likewise, many sellers have experienced the benefits of inflated prices and quick sales. However, it is businesses and young people who are suffering the most in New Hampshire.
This shortage in housing is contributing to our labor shortage. Young people leave our state in droves because they cannot find housing. The nonprofit Stay Work Play, which promotes our state to young workers and recent graduates, has done numerous studies establishing that workers leave because we lack housing and employment opportunities.
We see the “Help Wanted” signs scatter the landscape across the Granite State. Despite the average starting hourly rate in every county being well above 15 dollars an hour, it is hard to grow our labor force here because of our high housing costs. There have been reports of job fairs across the state with more employers than prospective workers. In addition, employers are shortening their business hours or days of operation to give existing workers a break. Lack of housing is killing our business climate, especially in our tourism industry.
Our limited supply of affordable housing prevents firms from sponsoring workers with an H2B or J1 visa. These workers are essential to filling our labor needs in industries that have massive shortages. Without a place for them to stay, there is no way to host them. The housing shortage is inhibiting our economy and our ability to build back after the pandemic. Our housing problems need to be solved.
Our state has failed to adequately address this significant issue. We need to make big changes in the Granite State to encourage affordable housing development and increase the supply of new homes. The secret lies within the deregulation of costly zoning laws, lower taxes or monetary incentives for builders, and establishing strong public-private partnerships.
How do we usher in new solutions? By contacting your legislators and asking them to work together on this critical issue. There has been nonpartisan legislation that will help address these issues. State Rep. Joe Alexander’s (R-Goffstown) HB586 encouraged towns to rethink development, promoting incentives to build more housing by reducing taxes. State Rep. Josh Yokela’s (R-Fremont) HB132 would have helped alleviate burdensome regulations without any negative impacts on the environment or communities. However, both these bills died in the New Hampshire House. These are just two of many bills that would solve our housing woes. If you want more housing options, you must let your legislators know that you support innovative, free-market-based solutions like HB586 or HB132.
Many bipartisan solutions will improve our housing market and increase housing development. We need to encourage legislators to work together and put partisan politics aside on this critical issue. The Granite State needs housing solutions today if we plan on addressing our labor shortage and the economic problems of tomorrow.