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Finding home: The need for affordable housing

Published: 9/22/2019 7:44:20 PM

The median cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Hillsborough County is $1,500 per month. This means that young people who grew up here and want to stay here to work often cannot live in Peterborough and the surrounding area due to the high rents. And many people who elect to have careers that offer a variety of services to others cannot afford to live here either. 

An excellent example of a town adding more affordable housing happened three decades ago in Concord, New Hampshire. The city had announced plans to tear down an apartment building and replace it with luxury condominiums, thereby displacing the current apartment residents.

Because of the vision of one woman, Juliana Eades, who headed up the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, a different project offered an alternative. A nonprofit organization was born called the Concord Area Trust for Community Housing – better known in Concord as CATCH. Many local citizens, businesses, banks and the city’s mayor at the time, became involved in renovating the formerly doomed building, and the residents incurred no raised rents. Then, the remaining part of that building site was available for additional affordable housing units, with even a small “village green,” instead of luxury apartments.

At the Monadnock Area Transitional Shelter in Peterborough, we have four apartments and can serve as many as six families at a time, if two small families (i.e., a single mother with one child) double up in the two larger apartments. Clearly however, this does not accommodate the number of people who work in Peterborough and who need more affordable housing. When a community works together as it did in Concord, situations can be solved; in the long run, it becomes a more appropriate answer. 

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all the citizens in our community would be confident of a home? While the CATCH project was not immediately welcomed by some Concord residents, it is an example of what can be done when people work together to alleviate the problems of homelessness. CATCH’s mission was to strengthen the Concord community by creating opportunities for permanently affordable, quality housing for people otherwise not served. And three decades later, CATCH’s project has grown and is still welcoming families who need lower rental properties!

NOTE: We hope you will enjoy our newsletter which you can access by visiting our web site at  Also, in last month’s article I mistakenly said that Bob Marrone was the pastor at the Unitarian Church and not the Union Congregational Church where he is actually the minister. Sorry, Bob!

WISH LIST: A reliable car; gift cards usable at local stores for items needed that cannot be purchased with food stamps, such as gas, clothing, Pampers, Wipes, Pull-ups, feminine products. Please send items to MATS at P.O. Box 3053 in Peterborough, or call the office at 924-5033 and leave a message for Susan. Thank you!

Hope Pettegrew is a MATS volunteer.

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