Peterborough Affordable Housing Subcommittee launching newsletter

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 9/28/2022 1:18:51 PM

The Peterborough Affordable Housing Subcommittee is launching a newsletter, “Neighbors Together,” the first week of October.

The newsletter will come out every other month, and the goal is to keep residents and businesses of Peterborough up to date on the progress, successes and challenges surrounding affordable housing in the community, according to a press release announcing the newsletter. To subscribe, go to the town website, peterboroughnh.gov.

The subcommittee is part of the town’s Economic Development Authority, and alternate member Carol Nelson said the newsletter arose after members determined the need to provide a single repository for disseminating information regarding the current housing crisis for renters. 

“We wanted to be able to provide one single repository to the community and businesses on topics relating to affordable workforce housing at the Peterborough municipal level and the state level,” Nelson said.

At the Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting, Nelson read a joint statement from the subcommittee in support of more rental options. The joint statement, she said, will be presented before all of the major committees, including the Select Board.

The committee’s first newsletter, Nelson said, will cover zoning workshops, include an interview with Contoocook Housing Trust Executive Director Alice Altman, provide information on accessory dwelling units (ADUs), which were increased to 1,000 square feet during the 2022 Town Meeting; and explain the difference between mobile homes and manufactured homes.

In the newsletter interview, Altman pointed out that when the Contoocook Housing Trust began in 1990, the focus was on developing housing affordable for families with only $25,000 in initial funding from Peterborough.

“Rents started at our first Peterborough property at $350 to $375 per month,” she said in the interview. “We are well out of either of those ranges in terms of both income and rents at this time.” 

Today, Altman said, CHT has a standing waiting list of more than 25 families.

According to New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA) data, there is just below a half-percent vacancy rate for two-bedroom apartments statewide and just below 1 percent for all units. In Peterborough, the vacancy rate is zero. Between the towns of Antrim, Bennington, Francestown, Greenfield, Peterborough, Hancock and Lyndeborough, there were only 13 affordable vacant rental units in 2020.

The median gross rental cost of an apartment in Peterborough is $1,139, and the median gross rental cost statewide is $1,584, according to NHHFA.

In her interview for “Neighbors Together,” Altman said the outlook for developing affordable housing today is much more financially challenging.

“While incomes have risen, so have property taxes, utilities, labor and materials, necessitating increased rents in order to be able to afford to cover our costs of operation,” she said. “[W]hile inflated sales prices of existing properties make it more difficult to create new affordable housing.”

Nelson said the subcommittee’s hope is that the newsletter will create a way for people to stay focused and informed about the affordable housing crisis in the region and the state.

“When I read from one section of Altman’s interview to the Planning Board about where people work who live in the affordable housing units, which includes RiverMead, the schools and the hospital, people practically gasped,” she said.  

The Economic Development Authority (EDA), established in 1995, has the purpose of enhancing economic development in Peterborough. The Affordable Housing Subcommittee, established in 2021 by a majority vote of EDA members, coordinates efforts and initiates the development of affordable housing by collaborating with existing and prospective employers to attract and retain a diverse  workforce.


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