By REDC Housing Coordinator Sarah Wrightsman
The Regional Economic Development Center has long recognized housing affordability and availability as a top barrier to economic growth in the region. Across the state, employers are struggling to recruit and retain workers in large part because of the limited supply of housing affordable to members of the workforce. As a result of the housing crisis, employees are commuting long distances to get to work, and businesses are losing good employees to places where housing is more affordable. Workers need somewhere to live.
So, what can businesses so to help solve New Hampshire’s housing crisis? Here are three things you can do.
Share your housing story
Stories are a powerful tool, and stories from the business community are effective at changing the minds of decision makers in New Hampshire. If your business is struggling because of the housing crisis, share your story!
You can share your story directly with your State Representative, State Senator, or local elected official. You can write your story in a letter to the Planning Board or Select Board, Council, or Board of Aldermen. You can share your letter in a social media post or in a letter to the editor in the newspaper.
If you want to hear real housing stories from real New Hampshire businesses, visit: www.seacoastwhc.org/stories.
Be an advocate (or become a decision maker)
Your voice is needed where decisions are made: at your town or city’s Planning Board, Council, or Aldermen meeting and at the State House in Concord. Find out about opportunities to advocate for policies or projects by staying connected in your community and by signing up to receive newsletters from Housing Action NH.
Showing up to voice your support when a policy or project is being discussed and voted on is important, but it can also be intimidating! Learn the tips for testifying on the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast’s advocacy hub: www.seacoastwhc.org/advocacy101 and attend an advocacy training with New Futures. Find other advocates in your network and invite them to join you; there is strength in numbers and attending a meeting with others is less intimidating than going alone.
Become a landlord
Some businesses have taken matters into their own hands and have built, leased, or bought housing for their workers! If you’re not ready to become a housing developer or a landlord, consider making a donation to an organization near you that is working to solve the housing crisis.
An example of this: The owners of Harmony Homes and GSD Studios, John and Maggie Randolph, took matters into their own hands and decided to build housing for their workers at Harmony Homes by the Bay!