2020 Housing Affordability Legislation

Faced both with historically low vacancy rates, high rents, and limited starter home inventory at historically high prices, many young people in New Hampshire simply cannot afford to live here. Stay Work Play supports measures to increase both the types and affordability of housing suitable for young people and young families.

House Bill 1632

What it does

Based on the recommendations from the Governor’s Housing Task Force, this bill creates incentives for municipalities and developers to encourage affordable housing via several tax incentives. The bill also creates a NH Housing Champion certification program and authorizes Business Profits Tax revenue sharing with New Hampshire housing champion municipalities achieving said certification.

Why it’s important

One reason more affordable housing isn’t being built is that it’s not that profitable to do so, especially compared to the profits seen in the market-rate and luxury housing markets. This bill aims to help mitigate this disincentive.

Current status

The bill was passed in a slightly amended version by House Municipal & County Government Committee and referred to the House Ways & Means Committee, which his scheduled to vote on the bill on March 17, 2020.

House Bill 1629

What it does

Based on the recommendations from the Governor’s Housing Task Force, this bill mandates specific training requirements for members of a zoning board of adjustment or planning board.

Why it’s important

Whether appointed or elected, local planning and zoning board members often do not receive any training on the processes, procedures, regulations, and statutes related to the board on which they serve. This lack of training can lean to pool land-use decisions at the local level resulting in a lack of housing development.

Current status

The bill was passed in a slightly amended version by the full House on March 5. The bill has not yet been assigned to a Senate committee.

House Bill 1248

What it does

Enables municipalities expand the existing Community Revitalization Tax Incentives (79:E) program for the construction of additional housing in designated areas.

Why it’s important

By expanding the 79:E program, which currently allows communities to incentivize commercial development, to housing, this will enable municipalities to incentivize new housing production by providing owners a time-limited break on property taxes.

Current status

The bill was passed in a slightly amended version by House Municipal & County Government Committee and referred to the House Ways & Means Committee, which his scheduled to vote on the bill on March 17, 2020.

Senate Bill 536, Senate Bill 487, Senate Bill 735, Senate Bill 721

What they do

In one form or fashion, these bills all attack the Housing Appeal Board, which was created during the 2019 legislative session and has not even been formed yet.

Why it’s important

The creation of a Housing Appeals Board is designed to help property owners and developers access a more streamlined and cost-efficient appeals process. The length of time an appeal takes, combined with the cost to litigate, causes some developers and property owners to abandon any thought of appeal or to attempt housing development at all. This is especially true with regard to housing on the lower end of the affordability scale, which often has lower profit margins too.

Current status

Senate Bill 735, Senate Bill 721, and Senate Bill 487 were voted Inexpedient to Legislate by the Senate, meaning these bills are dead.

Senate Bill 536 was amended completely to require the Housing Appeals Board to report annually on decisions overturned, appeals made to the supreme Court, and the impact of the board on housing units approved for construction. This amended version was passed by the full Senate. The bill has not yet been assigned to a House committee.