COVID-19 Migrants Wreak Havoc on Affordable Housing in New Hampshire

The housing market in the communities of Littleton and Lakes Region in New Hampshire have gotten more competitive as more people have moved to the area in the past year. Two of the area's affordable housing developers say that a lot of the influx comes from people who are leaving large cities because they can work from home and their children can attend school at least partly on a remote basis. The housing market has been tight for more than a year as demand for single-family housing units has been higher than the number of existing homes for sale and the number of newly built homes builders can finish.

Grants for Affordable Housing in New Hampshire

The nonprofit development firm Neighbor Works America received $1 million in grant funds to serve four communities in New Hampshire. The funds will be for affordable housing units in Manchester, Laconia, Concord and Lakes Region. The four developers have plans to use the funds for more housing and to continue rehabilitating other structures into affordable housing units. This funding is sent to the agencies every year by the federal government. It helps the developers keep up with the growing demand for affordable housing.

What One Developer Has to Say About the Funds for Affordable Housing

Carmen Lorentz, who is the Lakes Region Community Developers' executive director, said that the agency feels a lot of pressure to build more affordable housing. That pressure is more intense now than it has ever been in the past. According to Lorentz, people are leaving large cities like Boston because they can no longer afford even the cheapest neighborhoods there. Some want to get away from the crime or deplorable conditions in the cheapest housing units of expensive cities. Lorentz also stated that a lot of the Bostonians coming to New Hampshire are either buying or renting houses. Some are buying second homes in the area, but they've been spending more time there than in their first homes. According to real estate agents in the Lakes Region, cash offers on homes in the area are increasingly common.

About the People Who Are Buying Homes in New Hampshire

A lot of people have had trouble paying for housing in expensive real estate markets. They may have lost their jobs when the tourism, restaurants, bars and other entertainment businesses shut down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people kept their jobs but had their hours reduced. This also impacted their ability to pay exorbitant rent prices. Lorentz went on to say that it was already hard for the people who live and work in New Hampshire all the time. The influx of COVID-19 migrants has made an already tough situation worse for the existing residents. With more competition for the few available affordable housing units, long-time permanent residents find themselves unable to get a place to rent or buy.

Increase in Housing Prices Affects Everyone

In Littleton, housing prices have gone up by 20% to 30% in just one year. According to community developer Mike Claflin, this pushes a lot of people out of the housing market. If they can't afford to buy a home, they have to rent. Rent prices are also on the rise as a result of higher demand.

Other Reasons for New Hampshire's Hot Housing Market

The COVID-19 pandemic is one reason why New Hampshire's homes sell quickly and for higher prices than they did a year ago. Some of the communities, such as Littleton, have developed a reputation for being a cool, hip place to live. A lot of Millennials have moved into the community from some of the region's larger cities. Claflin said that this trend goes back to well before the COVID-19 pandemic existed.

Cost of Living Is On the Rise

Lorentz and Claflin state that the increase of housing costs is stressing people who work hourly jobs and have a low income. Not only are there fewer affordable housing units, but there are more people competing for them. Stagnant wages have not kept up the pace of growth with the cost of living. When a wealthy person who can work remotely sells their million-dollar home in Boston and moves to New Hampshire, they can easily spend $500,000 on a home there, but that might be out of reach for the area's existing residents. If people can continue working remotely, the housing prices will continue to increase.

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