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.

2021 Legislation

Senate Bill 127 (Part III)

What it does
A component of the big Senate Omnibus Appropriations Bill, Part III of Senate Bill 127 allocates $5 million per year during each of the next two years to state’s Affordable Housing Fund.

Why it’s important
The Affordable Housing Fund is a pot of money used to provide loans or grants to provide gap and other needed financing to make affordable housing developments financially viable.

Given the financial realities of housing development – including high land costs, high construction costs, low labor availability and high labor costs, and more – both for profit and non-profit developers often need financial assistance to make affordable housing developments “work.”

Status

Part III of Senate Bill 127 was passed by the full Senate on March 25, 2021, and will “cross over” to the House in early April.

House Bill 395

What it does
House Bill 395 aims to incentivize (or at least not dis-incentivize) home sharing in New Hampshire by exempting income from home-share arrangements from the determination of net assets for purposes of determining eligibility for certain property tax exemptions and from public assistance eligibility determinations.” The bill also “exempts the rental of shared facilities from licensure and regulation by the New Hampshire real estate commission.”

Why it’s important
Home sharing is pretty much what it sounds like – a homeowner (often a senior citizen) with an extra room is matched with a homeseeker (often a younger person who can’t afford their own apartment) and the two become housemates. It’s another way we might help to make housing more affordable for young people, and something can be done immediately as it does not require new housing to be approved and built.

Status

The House Judiciary Committee voted 17-3 that the bill is Inexpedient to Legislate. The full House will vote on this recommendation at a date TBD.

What you can do
Email your state representative(s) and ask them to SUPPORT House Bill 395.

House Bill 132

What it does
House Bill 132 is a bi-partisan bill sponsored by two under-40 state reps that seeks to prohibit local zoning ordinances from requiring certain acreage for single family housing units that do not use wells or disperse liquid from a black water septic tank into the yard.

Why it’s important
One of the reasons that it can be near impossible to achieve any sort of density in housing (which helps to make housing more affordable) in some towns is that said towns can require a single housing unit to sit on lots of up to two or three acres.

Status

House Bill 132 was “retained” by House Municipal & County Government Committee, effectively killing the bill this year.

House Bill 189

What it does
House Bill 189 would allow as a right the addition of up to three accessory dwelling units (ADUs, aka in-law apartments) on a single-family dwelling.

Why it’s important
State law currently allows one ADU by right. By allowing more, this could help add more affordable apartments to the state’s housing mix and could be done without the need to build entirely new housing developments.

Status

Was voted Inexpedient to Legislative (thus killing the bill) by the full House on Feb. 24, 2021

House Bill 341

What it does
House Bill 341 would allow up to four housing units (a four-plex, two duplexes, a single family with 3 accessory dwelling units, etc.) to be built on a lot zoned for single family usage that is connected (or can be connected) to water and sewer.

Why it’s important
Allowing increased housing density generally helps to increase housing affordability. This bill would help add more affordable apartments to the state’s housing mix and could be done without the need to build entirely new housing developments.

Status

House Bill 341 was voted Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) by a vote of 10-9 in the House Municipal & County Government Committee.

What you can do

Email your House member(s) and ask them to SUPPORT House Bill House Bill 341.

House Bill 288

What it does
House Bill 288 seeks to eliminate the Housing Appeals Board, a new entity (that has not yet even met for the first time) that provides developers who are denied building permits by local planning and zoning board an alternative to seeking relief in Superior Court.

Why it’s important
Litigation can be time consuming and expensive. Knowing that an affordable housing development could easily be denied by a planning or zoning board can discourage housing developments that are affordable and whose profit margins are slim to begin with.

Status

Was voted Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) by the House Judiciary Committee on March 10, 2021. Currently awaiting a vote by the full House.

What you can do

Email your House member(s) and ask them to vote ITL on House Bill 288.

House Bill 586

What it does
Based on the recommendations from the Governor’s Housing Task Force, House Bill 586 is a combination of last year’s HB 1629 and HB 1632 (as they wound up before dying, not as they were introduced), both of which Stay Work Play supported.

Specifically this bill:

  • Provides for free training materials for members of a zoning board of adjustment or planning board;
  • Modifies the appeals process for zoning decisions;
  • Provides for fee shifting and posting of bond in appeals to superior court from decisions of boards of adjustment;
  • Permits municipal economic development and revitalization districts in RSA 162-K to be used to increase workforce housing and other residential development within the municipality;
  • Increases the community revitalization tax relief incentive period for eligible housing projects under RSA 79-E; and
  • Establishes the New Hampshire housing champion certification program in the office of strategic initiatives.

Status

Laid on the Table (by a vote of 175-172) by the full House on Feb. 25, 2021. This means the House may vote again on the bill someday, but for now the bill has been set aside. If the session ends and the bill has not been taken off the table, the bill dies.

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