Keene State College
Department of Geography
THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME
AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE
VIRGINIA MALCOLM, DANIEL MOYLAN, & DANIELLE PAGE
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Christopher Cusack
The cost of affordable of housing, purchase prices and rental prices, have
drastically risen the last fifteen years. The income levels have not kept pace with rising
housing costs, making affordable/workforce housing a real problem on the national
level. Affordable/ workforce housing is defined as housing targeted at middle to low
income families and is based on the one-third principle that a household should not be
paying more than a third of its gross income on housing. A second way of determining
an areas’ housing problem is by using the area’s median income (AMI). This principle
states that people making between 60 to 120 percent of the AMI should be able to
afford housing. The first chapter of this paper explains these two national housing
issues and relates them to New Hampshire. It finally uses the town of Milford, New
Hampshire as a case study and intends to help show that the town does have an
affordable/workforce housing issue.
Senate Bill 342 has forced many New Hampshire towns to reevaluate their
contributions to affordable workforce housing due to the fear of loss of control through
court hearings. The second chapter uses assessment data from Milford in combination
with an affordability calculator to determine the availability of affordable housing within
the municipality. To determine the validity of using assessment parcel values instead of
the purchasing price Statistical Package for the Social Sciences was used. The
distribution of parcels that are affordable at 80, 100, and 120 percent of the median
income are mapped out using ArcGIS.
The survey component was aimed at finding out how communities across the
state of New Hampshire are dealing with the ominous issues involved with the
availability of affordable/workforce housing for the growing low to medium income
families in the state. The survey consisted of 14 questions that dealt with various issues
involved with workforce housing and was sent to members of the New Hampshire’s
Planners Association. The third chapter goes over the results obtained from the opinions
of the 23 survey respondents who represent various towns and organizations across the
state. These opinions can be compared to statistical and census data and be used to
interpret which areas of the state are dealing with a greater workforce housing demand
or shortage. It also shows how each area is currently dealing with these issues and in
what different ways.
We would like to thank the town of Milford, New Hampshire for helping us with
this project. More specifically Bill Parker, Sarah Marchant, and Marti Noel whom
without their help this would have never been finished. Also, Dr. Cusack for his
direction and guidance though both junior and senior seminar classes to ensure they we
turn in quality work, attention to detail in all that we have done, and preparing us for
future endeavors. He served as a true role model, challenged us to think, and
demonstrated how a great leader and professor should strive to teach. We are grateful.
Finally, we would like to thank our families and all of our friends for their support
through not only this project, but the whole process of attaining our undergraduate
degree. There is no question that without you none of this is possible. Thank you.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES v
LIST OF TABLES vi
HISTORY AND HYPOTHESES 2
PURCHASING PRICE TRENDS 5
RENTAL PRICE TRENDS 9
WHAT IS AFFORDABLE? 17
SURVEY BACKGROUND 28
EVALUATION OF SECOND HYPOTHESIS 38
LITERATURE CITED 44
APPENDIX A – SURVEY INSTRUMENT 47
LIST OF FIGURES
1. TRENDS IN PURCHASE PRICE AND MEDIAN FAMILY INCOME NATIONALLY 3
2. MILFORD’S AREA MEDIAN INCOME 4
3. PURCHASE PRICES BY COUNTY 7
4. MILFORD PURCHASE PRICES 8
5. RENTAL PRICES BY COUNTY 10
6. RENT PRICES MILFORD 11
7. ASSESSED PARCELS IN MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE 14
8. ASSESSED PARCELS IN DOWNTOWN MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE 15
9. RELATIVE PROPORTIONS OF HOUSING AFFORDABILITY 19
10. AFFORDABLE PARCELS OF LAND IN MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE AT
80 AND 100 PERCENT OF THE MEDIAN INCOME 21
11. HOUSES THAT ARE AFFORDABLE BETWEEN 80 AND 100 PERCENT OF MEDIAN INCOME 22
12. AFFORDABLE PARCELS OF LAND IN MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE AT
120 PERCENT OF THE MEDIAN INCOME 23
13. HOUSES THAT ARE AFFORDABLE BETWEEN 100 AND 120 PERCENT OF MEDIAN INCOME 24
14. HOUSES THAT COSTS MORE THAN 120 PERCENT OF THE MEDIAN INCOME 25
15. AFFORDABLE PARCELS OF LAND IN DOWNTOWN MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE 26
16. AREAS REPRESENTED BY SURVEY RESPONDENTS 31
17. ESTIMATIONS OF COMMUTING WORKFORCE 32
18. HIGHEST PRIORITIES OF RANKED TOWN ISSUES 34
19. MOST IMPACTED GROUPS BY UNAVAILABLE WORKFORCE HOUSING 35
20. TOP GROUPS SUGGESTED BY SURVEY RESPONDENTS FROM QUESTION 12 36
21. OTHER POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS TO SOLVE WORKFORCE HOUSING PROBLEMS 37
22. SCATTER PLOT OF OPINION VS INCOME 39
23. PAST AND PROJECTED POPULATION OF MILFORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE 43
LIST OF TABLES
1. MEDIAN PURCHASE PRICE AND INCOME 5
2. HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY RENT 11
3. RESULTS OF ONE SAMPLE T-TEST 18
4. ANNUAL INCOMES AND AFFORDABLE HOME PRICES 18
5. SPSS CORRELATION 38
In the United States, and New Hampshire as well, housing prices over the past
decade have risen drastically, making it ever more difficult for people to afford to buy
homes. To go along with the rising costs of home purchases, rental prices have risen to
record high levels. These two housing trends have brought the term affordable housing
to the forefront of many communities concerns. Affordable housing is loosely defined
as housing targeted at middle to lower income markets and based on the national
standard that about one-third of a household’s annual income should be spent on
housing. This can be home purchases or living in a rental property. This is a concern for
people of the middle and lower income classes because they have begun to pay more
than the 33 percent national standard on housing.
The geography and background of this issue are national in scope. There is no
region of the country -- West, South, Midwest or Northeast -- that is immune to this
problem. It also does not discriminate between rural, urban, or sub-urban areas either.
This crisis in affordable housing is not confined to the poorest of
poor. The issue of housing affects virtually all American families.
The affordable/workforce housing affects homeowners, renters
and potential homeowners. Households with middle incomes in
their respective areas are increasingly struggling to afford
median priced homes (Rypkema 2002).
For New Hampshire, a state that has all three of the aforementioned areas, this issue
has come to the forefront of many community concerns (Department of Housing and
urban Development, 2003, 3).
Since 1990, New Hampshire has seen purchasing prices more than double in
most counties and rental costs nearly double as well (New Hampshire Housing Finance
Authority 2006). This is naturally of great concern to many in New Hampshire. As
companies and businesses look to potentially locate in the state, they ask such
questions as where their employees will live, and how far the employee commute will
be. It is very important to the state that a potential employer will choose to locate in
New Hampshire. Certainly, companies will not choose New Hampshire if they cannot
find an ample workforce housing (Francese 2008, 36).
New Hampshire’s affordable housing problem has been brought to the forefront
of many cities’ concerns. This paper intends to give some background to the issue of
affordable housing nationally, and then relate this to New Hampshire’s spike in
purchase and rental costs. Rising median purchase prices of homes and a similar trend in
rent prices have limited people in their housing options, making affordable housing a
rare commodity in the state. Through the use of a survey component, Geographic
Information Systems (GIS), and secondary research, the intent of this paper is to
determine the need for affordable workforce housing in Milford, New Hampshire.
History and Hypotheses
The terms affordable housing and workforce housing have become synonymous,
as the workforce needs affordable places to live that are close to work. The key issue
that this paper explores is the nation’s dramatic price increases in home purchasing and
rental costs. More specifically, the intent of this research is to assess whether there is an
affordable/workforce housing issue in the town of Milford, New Hampshire. For
Milford, a town with a 2006 estimated population of 15,054 (US Census), housing costs
have gone up drastically, while the income levels of people have not gone up
accordingly (National Association of Realtors, 2006). Therein lies the problem; working
people have to pay higher costs for housing without concomitant income increases
(Figure 1). Many are paying more than the 33 percent national standard set by the
Federal government. This standard refers to a household’s reasonable, affordable
expectation to pay for housing. In other words, a household should be paying
approximately one-third of its after tax income on housing. Residents in lower income
communities are the most severely hit, having to pay in many cases, more than 50
percent of their monthly income (Department of Housing and Urban Development
$200,000 Purchase Prices
Median family Income
Figure 1 Trends in purchase prices and median family income nationally
Another way of determining if workforce/affordable housing is a problem in a
community is by using an area’s median income (AMI). Actual workforce housing should
target households between 60-120 percent of the AMI. Within this range, rental
housing for a community should be affordable to those households who make between
60-80 percent of the AMI. Home ownership should be affordable to those who make
between 80-120 percent of the AMI (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning
Figure 2 illustrates Milford, New Hampshire’s Census estimated 2007 median
income of $64,810, representing 100 percent of the AMI. The green box in Figure 2
represents the range for affordable/workforce housing that is both in the rental and
home ownership range ($38,886-$77,772). The chart shows for Milford that between
$38,886 and $51,848 represents 60-80 percent of the AMI. This income level for Milford
would fall in the rental range. The income range of the workforce making 80-120
percent of the AMI would be $51,848-$77,772, and this would fall in the home
ownership range (New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning 2006).
Figure 2 Milford’s area median income.
There are many interwoven details that contribute to this problem. In New
Hampshire, these issues include and are certainly not limited to; property taxes, a
growing elderly population, an out-migration of young people, interest rates, and school
funding. This paper concedes that this issue is more complex than just housing costs.
Therefore, the hypotheses of this paper are: 1. the mean assessment value of properties
in Milford, New Hampshire is significantly greater than the price that is affordable to the
average Milford resident. 2. a correlation exists between towns with higher median
incomes and the opinion of New Hampshire Planners Association that there is less need
for affordable/workforce housing.
Purchasing Price Trends
As with anything economic, the trends in pricing of housing are uncertain.
People have long supported the idea that they can acquire wealth through
homeownership and equity in property. On the national level, housing costs have
outpaced the growth of income levels (Table 1). The national median purchase price
has nearly tripled since 1990, while the national family median income has not even
doubled (NAR 1990 and 2007). This naturally makes it harder for people to afford
Table 1 Median Purchase and Income
National Median Purchase Price National Family Median Income
1990- $78,500 1990- $36,598
2007- $217,900 2007-$59,224
Owner occupied housing has, in many parts of New England, become
unattainable and unaffordable. It is not just the low income households that are
struggling with housing issues, but middle income households as well. For example in
2005, 29 percent of middle income homeowners in Massachusetts and 32 percent of
middle income homeowners in Rhode Island reported having had severe housing
burdens. The national average was 21 percent (Sasser et al 2007).
Figure 3 shows the increasing housing costs for New Hampshire’s counties
represented in a graduated color map. Analysis of the data and map clearly shows that
from 1990 to 2007 the purchasing prices have nearly doubled in almost all of the
counties. There was a slight decline in median purchase prices from 1990 to 1995; but
they have skyrocketed in the past 17 years.
For example, in 1990, Hillsborough County’s median purchase price for a house
was $125,048. Five years later the median purchase price fell to $112,000. By 2007, the
county’s median purchase price had reached $264,900, or 2.12 times as much as the
median purchase price in 1990 (NHHFA). This follows the pattern for the whole state,
particularly the southern border shared with Massachusetts. Between 2000 to 2007,
housing costs more than doubled, likely affected by an influx of Massachusetts residents
relocating to New Hampshire to find more affordable housing. One third of
Massachusetts residents who moved from Massachusetts in 2002 moved to other New
England states. Forty four percent of those migrants moved to New Hampshire, the
highest percentage of any state (Bluestone 2006).
Mirroring Hillsborough County as a whole, the City of Milford shows the same
trends (Figure 4). The 1990 median purchase price for Milford was $126,000, though by
1995 the price decreased to $100,000. Again, as seen in the county comparison, the
price in 2007 for Milford reached a staggering $254,000, or 2.02 times as much as the
purchase price in 1990 (NHHFA 2008).
Median Purchase Price
Figure 4 Milford purchase prices.
This strengthens the evidence for high housing costs and the need for
affordable/workforce housing. This example of median purchase prices has shown
significant rise in both New Hampshire and Milford.
Rental Price Trends
Economic trends are unpredictable for housing purchases and the same can be
said for rental units (Department of Housing and Urban Development 2005, 3). The two
main socio-economic classes affected by rental issues are the working poor and middle
class. The working poor, as defined for this study, are low income people with jobs (Katz
2007, 15-66). With an income level in the 60-80 percent of the AMI, this group is
generally spending greater than 33 percent, and in some areas more than 50 percent, of
its income on rent. Likewise, the middle class, families making between 80-120 percent
of the AMI, is finding housing prices less attainable (Streeter, 4 2003). As a result, they
are at times forced to rent at higher prices than the 33 percent.
Figure 5 shows the increasing rental costs for New Hampshire’s counties
represented in a graduated color map. From 1990 to 2007, the median two bedroom
rental unit has risen as dramatically as did housing costs. In 1990, it cost an average of
$626 a month to rent a two bedroom apartment, in 2007 it costs $1029. This is 1.64
times the median rental rate of 1990. Rental data for the state follows roughly the
same pattern as the purchasing price data, it dips slightly from 1990 to 1995, and then
dramatically increases from 1995 to 2007 (NHHFA 2008). This shows that there is
definitely a relationship between purchasing prices and rental prices.
Figure 5- Rental Prices by County.
Figure 5 demonstrates how pricing increased first in the southeastern part of the
state due to an influx of prior Massachusetts residents and urban sprawl from Boston.
By 2007, the price increases put average rent for a two bedroom apartment at over
$800 in every county except Coos. Using Hillsborough County as an example, median
two bedroom rent prices follow that same gradual increase pattern (Table 2).
Table 2 Hillsborough rent
Hillsborough County Median 2 Bedroom Rent
Finally, the median two bedroom rent was examined for the town of Milford
(Figure 6). The median rental cost for a two bedroom apartment in Milford in 1990 was
$656. In 2007, the median two bedroom rental cost was $1,112. This is 1.70 times the
1990 cost. This trend continues for the state, county, and Milford (NHHFA 2008).
2 Bedroom Units
Figure 6 Rent prices Milford.
Housing costs nationwide are certainly rising, thus making affordable housing
less and less attainable (Streeter 2003, 4). This is especially troubling for low and middle
income households. These mostly working people have to pay a troubling amount of
their monthly income on rent, more than the 33 percent national standard. New
Hampshire is following the same nationwide trend as the data shows. This serves as
valuable information for supporting the hypotheses of this paper and providing
background to the issue. It shows housing costs in New Hampshire have risen
significantly (purchases or rentals), and more specifically have risen in Milford, New
To examine the availability of housing in New Hampshire the town of Milford
was used as a case study. The town’s residential parcel data allowed for the
manipulation of information that was used to determine what is affordable, who can
afford to live in Milford, and the availability of affordable housing in Milford, New
Hampshire. This information is used in combination with ArcMap and parcel data from
Milford to create maps that illustrate the spatial distribution of Milford housing.
Marti Noel, Tax Assessor for Milford, supplied lists of parcels that encompass
residential and commercial-residential properties. Commercial-residential properties
are apartment complexes. These data include parcels that are: single family homes, two
family homes, three family homes, two unit, three unit, multi houses on one lot, and
four to eight unit apartment buildings. These are seen in Figures 7 and 8 as the assessed
parcels and are shaded in pink. Unfortunately, the assessment data does not represent
all of Milford. In Figures 7 and 8, a notable number of parcels have no corresponding
assessment data. Additional parcels are not included because they are conserved public
lands, while still others are non-taxable parcels such as schools, churches, town
Figure 7 Assessed parcels in Milford, New Hampshire.
Figure 8 Assessed parcels in downtown Milford, New Hampshire.
The mean assessed value of single family home, according to the assessment
data, is estimated at $306,816. The mean parcel price for the assessed single family
homes is $176,631. The parcel price includes 307 properties valued at zero dollars and
208 additional parcels that are valued at less than $100,000. These values greatly
decrease the estimations. When the parcels that are newly built and valued at zero
were removed, the mean purchasing price changed to $188,546. These purchasing
prices do not represent actual value. Ms. Noel explained the benefits of using the
assessment price over the purchasing price.
The assessed value was set for April 1, 2006. Sales that have occurred
after that time would reflect market conditions since that date. From
2006 until now, property values have been decreasing in our market, so
the sale prices would likely show as lower than our assessed value. Since
the revaluation cycle is every 5 years, and we are in the middle of a cycle,
it would be unlikely that sale prices and assessed values would match,
unless it was a static or stagnant market. Secondly, you need to consider
the sale date of the sale. Some of those sales in the list I provided you
had sales back in the late ‘90s or early 2000’s. The market had increased
since that time; so again, those sale prices would be lower than the April
1, 2006 benchmark. Finally, the assessed value reflects a statistical
analysis of all sales occurring within a specific time frame. Since the
assessed value is determined by more data than just one individual sale,
the assessed value could be higher or lower than an individual sale price
The figures that represent the assessment value and the purchasing price are
substantially different from the estimated purchasing price quoted from the NHHFA.
The NHHFA estimated 2007 purchasing price in Milford is $254,000. A homebuyer that
can afford a $254,000 home has 520 parcels from which to choose. This is 24 percent of
the available housing supply. This illustrates that the estimated purchasing price from
the NHHFA is currently inaccurate.
What is affordable?
Assessment data may also be utilized to determine the availability of
affordable/workforce housing in Milford. The first step is to determine what parcels are
affordable. Using the Affordability Calculator located on the NHHFA website, it is
possible to determine what purchasing price is affordable for different annual incomes.
The following estimates are based on the assumptions that the homebuyer has no
outstanding debts, has $10,000 on hand and is eligible for a 30 year loan with an
interest rate of 6.250 percent and closing costs incurred from the purchase. The
estimated median annual income for Milford, New Hampshire, in 2007 is $64,810 (U.S.
Census). Using this as the input value for annual income in the Affordability Calculator, it
is estimated that the homebuyer can afford a 30-year mortgage at 6.250 percent in the
amount of $191,983. With an $8,080.17 down payment, the total purchase price would
be $200,063. Total closing costs for this loan are estimated at $1,920.
To test how different this estimation is from the available data, every single
family home parcel’s unique assessment value was compared in Statistical Package for
the Social Sciences (SPSS) to the estimated affordable purchasing price $200,063 value
using a One Sample T-Test. The comparison resulted in a statistically significant
difference of .000 (Table 3). Therefore, there is less than a one percent chance in that
saying the two values are different would be wrong. These results reveal that the
affordable value and the mean assessment value are significantly different. This results
in fewer homes to be considered affordable. The mean assessment data value is
$306,802. This is more than $100,000 greater than the affordable purchasing price of
the average Milford resident. This causes the first hypothesis of this paper to not be
rejected. The average mean assessment value of properties in Milford, New Hampshire
is significantly greater than the price that is affordable to the average Milford resident.
Table 3 Results of a one sample t-test.
Test Value = 200063
95% Confidence Interval of the
t df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Difference Lower Upper
Assessed Value 63.213 1938 .000 1.06740E5 103428.0771 110051.3329
Not every homebuyer earns the median income in Milford, New Hampshire.
Most residents earn between 80 and 120 percent of the median income. This range of
income causes the purchasing prices that are considered affordable to vary as seen in
Table 4. Eighty percent of the median income is $51,848 and an affordable purchasing
price for this income is $161,816. One hundred and twenty percent of Milford’s median
income is $77,772 annually, allowing houses that cost less than $238,426 to be
affordable. The relative proportion of affordable housing compared to unaffordable
housing can be seen in Figure 9. This figure represents all of the residential properties
excluding one that was assessed at $1,700,011 which is nearly twice the cost of the
second most expensive house in Milford.
Table 4 Annual incomes and affordable home prices
Percent of Annual Income Annual Income Affordable Home Price
80 $51,848 $161,816
100 $64,810 $200,063
120 $77,772 $238,426
Figure 9 Relative proportions of housing affordability.
Francese and Merrill define workforce housing as single-family homes,
condominiums, and apartments that are affordable to households with an income up to
120 percent of the area’s median household income (2008, 11). According to the
assessment data provided by the town of Milford, only 311 parcels of the 2167
residential parcels that include single family homes, multiple units or families on one lot
were deemed to be affordable. That is, they were below the estimated affordable home
price that a homebuyer could afford if they made 120 percent of the median annual
income. Of these parcels only 239 of the 1946 single family homes in Milford are
considered affordable, this is 12 percent of the available assessed parcels.
Figure 10 shows the distribution of parcels that are affordable at up to 80
percent of the median income and up to 100 percent of the median income. There are
ten residential properties that cost below $161,816. Two of these ten parcels are
affordable at 60 percent of the median income. Homebuyers that make 60 percent of
the median income are usually forced to rent properties due to lack of availability of
very inexpensive housing. This figure also exhibits the location of the 37 parcels that are
affordable at values between $161,816 and $200,063 or 80 and 100 percent of the
median income. These 37 parcels represent less than two percent of the assessed
parcels in Milford. Figure 11 is a series of pictures of actual homes that are assessed
between $161,816 and $200,063.
Figure 12 presents the 263 parcels that are assessed to be affordable at values
between 100 and 120 percent of the median income, or $200,063 and $238,426. To be
able to afford these houses homebuyers must make slightly more money than the
average Milford resident. This group of houses represents 12 percent of the assessed
data. This figure also exhibits all of the parcels that cost more than 120 percent of the
median income. Corresponding to 85 percent of all housing in Milford these parcels are
valued above the affordable housing scale. Images of houses that are affordable at
between 100 and 120 percent of the median income can be seen in figure 13. Pictures
of homes that cost more than 120 percent of the median income are showcased in
figure 14. Figure 15 shows this distribution of parcels up to 120 percent of the median
income in the downtown area.
Figure 10 Affordable parcels of land in Milford, New Hampshire at 80 and 100 percent
of the median income.
Figure 11 Houses that are affordable between 80 and 100 percent of the median income.
Figure 12 Affordable parcels of land in Milford, New Hampshire at under 120 percent
of the median income and unaffordable parcels.
Figure 13 Houses that are affordable between 100 and 120 percent of the median income
Figure 14 Houses that cost more than 120 percent of the median income.
Figure 15 Affordable parcels of land in downtown Milford, New Hampshire.
It is evident that as the distance from downtown and route 101 (which runs
parallel to the river) increases the price of the parcels increases. It is also noticeable
when comparing the pictures of different affordable houses there is a trend in structural
complexity. There are many ranch style homes (single level) or small second story, Cape
Cod style homes seen in the northern portion of the town. Unaffordable homes are
larger houses on larger parcels of land. They are common throughout the town and
dominate the sections of town that are remote.
The average assessment value of parcels in Milford is estimated at $306,816.
This is affordable at an income of $101,130 per year. This income is 156 percent of the
median income of Milford, New Hampshire. A home at this value would cost $2,359.71
per month or $28,316.52 per year. This is 42 percent of average income in Milford. Far
less than half of the population can manage payments of this magnitude.
Due to this exorbitant price, many families are forced to pay more than they
have the means for to gain a home in this community. Others will be forced to commute
into Milford if they have employment in the town. Still others will decide that they
cannot spare that much of their income for housing and will decide not to move to
Milford or be forced to leave the community because they do not earn enough money
to make all their ends meet.
It is evident that a significant housing affordability issue exists in Hillsborough
County and the town of Milford, New Hampshire. Statistical and Census data readily
reveal the relationship between affordable housing, population, and income. Therefore,
in order to attain an accurate understanding of how the experts in the field are
addressing these issues, a survey was conducted to acquire the opinions of members of
the New Hampshire Planners Association. This association represents various towns and
regions across the state, and the survey’s intent is to determine how these professional
planners perceive the issues involved with workforce housing and income.
The intent of the survey is comparative analysis and solution identification.
Specifically, the survey seeks to identify those towns currently dealing with issues of
housing affordability, and in what ways the respondents are dealing with the issues.
The survey was sent to the members of the New Hampshire Planners Association in
hopes of finding out how the different issues are dealt with in various New Hampshire
communities, and how the perceptions of each respondent may differ from the rest of
the state. The survey consisted of 14 questions on various issues dealing with reasons
for the lack of affordable housing in New Hampshire. These questions were posted on
the Surveymonkey.com website, and each planning association member was sent a link
to the website to take the survey (Survey Monkey 2008).
The first eight questions were presented in a graphic scale format and asked
individuals to rate their level of agreement for each statement associated with housing
in their town. A graphic scale is a form of question commonly used in surveys, and asks
individuals to rate their response on a scale (Fink and Kosecoff 1998, 20). For each
statement, respondents could rate their agreement on a scale of 1 through 5. The scale
started at 1, which meant that the respondent strongly disagrees with the statement,
and went to 5 meaning that the respondent strongly agrees with the statement. For
questions 2 through 4, the level of agreement choices were disagree, neutral, and agree.
Question 9 consisted of a ranking system in order to determine respondents’
opinions on which issues are considered more important within their towns. A rank
order question is a type of comparative rating scale that relies on relative judgment
(Fink and Kosecoff 1998, 21). Respondents were asked to rank the following six issues
on a scale of 1 through 6, with an option of other.
Economic Growth Other
An issue ranked as 1 would mean that it is considered most important within the
respondent’s town, while an issue ranked at 6 would mean that the issue is least
important. The rest of the questions in the survey either asked for a specific response or
were open-ended in order to obtain the opinions of the respondents pertaining to a
particular issue (Fink and Kosecoff 1998, 12).
Of a total of 23 survey responses, only sixteen included community affiliation and 18
provided specific jobs titles. Among the titles were:
Planning Director or Coordinator Director of Planning and Land Use
or Community Development
Assistant or Consulting Planner Program or Economic
Director of Public Affairs Planning and Zoning
City or Town Planner
Figure 16 shows the areas of New Hampshire with representatives who responded to
the survey. Fourteen individuals are affiliated with a specific town, while two represent
regional planning commissions; the Southwest Regional Planning Commission and the
Nashua Regional Planning Commission. The state of New Hampshire has a total of nine
regional planning commissions and each has an appointed voluntary board of members
from each community within the commission. These commissions, along with a
professional planning team, assist on any local, environmental, transportation, land use
and planning issues (NHARPC 2008).
Based on the information obtained from this survey, it is evident that most New
Hampshire communities have affordable housing issues. The number of respondents
who agreed that housing was an issue in their town was 65.2 percent, while only 21.7
percent disagreed. One of the representatives who disagreed that affordable housing
was an issue within their town was the planning director for the town of Berlin. This
planning director also agreed that household incomes in the town have kept pace with
available housing prices. Out of the respondents who agreed on having an affordable
housing issue, 60.8 percent also disagreed that household incomes have kept pace with
available housing costs. This correlates with the number of respondents who agreed
that growth in housing costs are outpacing income growth within towns at 73.9 percent.
Figure 16 Areas represented by survey respondents
Nearly half of the survey respondents, 47.8 percent, believe that there has been
less available affordable housing over the past 5 years. This also coincides with the
percent of respondents who agreed that there were not ample employment
opportunities within their towns, at 47.8 percent. Within towns that have a lack of
affordable or workface housing, it is supposed that many individuals are forced to
commute from surrounding towns or even farther out in order to keep their jobs and
maintain an affordable adequate living space (Bronski 2006, 31). Question 10 asked
respondents to estimate what percentages of their town’s residents commute to work
from outlying towns because they cannot afford to live in their own. Only two
individuals stated that more than 50 percent of their workforce is forced to commute
from outlying towns because they cannot afford to live in their own town. These results
are significant because the two estimations are at 80 percent and over but the survey
respondents did not provide the town with which they are affiliated. This opinion can
be compared to Figure 17, which shows the results of question 10.
Figure 17 Estimations of commuting workforce
According to the results of Figure 17, eleven individuals stated that 50 percent or
less of their workforce is forced to commute from other towns. It seems that most
homeowners are able to find affordable houses within their own communities and are
not forced to commute from outlying towns based on the opinion of the representative
who completed the survey.
The last two questions in section one of the survey found that most respondents
were neutral to the idea that developers be mandated to provide a percent of
affordable housing in any new housing projects at 30.4 percent (34.8 percent disagreed
and 34.8 percent agreed). Most respondents, 69.5 percent, also agreed that zoning laws
should be changed to provide affordable housing if needed. Developers have to work in
conjunction with zoning laws in order to provide adequate building units within
communities. Inclusionary zoning is a type of construction mandate that requires
developers to provide a certain percentage of all new housing units being built to be
affordable to people of low or median incomes (Hart 2002, 27). This type of zoning
mandate can be very important to certain communities and can provide affordable
housing units for low to median income families.
Figure 18 represents responses to question nine of the survey, which asked
individuals to prioritize issues within their town. As shown, 60.9 percent of individuals
rated taxes as the number one priority within their town and only 8.7 percent of
individuals rated housing the number one priority. Economic growth was the second
most rated issue as number one priority in towns with 26.1 percent. These results show
that most towns are aware of affordable housing issues within their communities but it
is not the most important issue to address. The option of an ‘other’ group was placed in
our survey in case there was another important issue that was not provided as a choice;
unfortunately respondents were not given the opportunity to write in what their ‘other’
choice might be.
Figure 18 Highest priorities of ranked town issues
Although the previous results showed that housing issues ranked only above
environment issues a majority of respondents, 59 percent, felt that in comparison to
seniors and low income families, the trained workforce is impacted the most by the lack
of available workforce housing (Figure 19). This is most likely because many working-
class and middle-class families are not making enough money to afford housing now
that housing costs are on the rise and average incomes are not keeping pace (Lipman
2005, 6). Defined as, firefighters, police, mechanics, medical technicians, and the like,
many working-class and middle-class people feel that they may be only one illness,
accident, or layoff away from foreclosure. All sorts of people with incomes above the
poverty line still cannot afford market-rate housing. The largest groups are single
parents, seniors, the young fresh on the job market, and the new unemployed (Davis
1995, 2). A possible reason why seniors were rated as the group impacted the least by
the lack of available affordable/workforce housing is because there seems to be a lot
more homes provided for the elderly and wealthy families than there are
affordable/workforce homes (Shapiro 2005, 2). “The NHHFA are beginning to look at the
actual need of age restricted housing. This is the only legal form of discrimination… The
benefit to developers to make age restricted housing is that they receive density
bonuses, the towns encourage this because it is a free property tax for the town
because there are no kids coming in with the older people” (Frost 2008).
Figure 19 Most impacted groups by unavailable workforce housing
By identifying the workforce housing is indeed a concern for most of New
Hampshire, affirmative action is need for many working class families. The question
then remains who should lead in the in the development of newer, more
accommodating, affordable homes. A total of 22 individuals responded to this question
and were evenly divided between whom should lead in workforce housing
development. An even number of eight individuals stated that both housing providers
and developers as well as the government should lead the development in more
available workforce housing; only six individuals stated that both should lead
development (Figure 20). These results seem interesting because many individuals have
expressed the opinion that there is a need for developers and state and local
governments to work together in order to solve many workforce housing issues. “State
and local governments with limited resources and increasingly stressed affordable
housing developers have been forced to become ever more creative and flexible in their
attempts to address this intractable problem” (Haughey 2006, 9).
Figure 20 Top groups suggested by survey respondents from question 12
As to potential solutions, survey results conclude that 87% percent of
respondents believe developer incentives are the best solution to address workforce
housing problems (Figure 21). Additional solutions provided by respondents include:
Lending Institutions Group cohesion
Site plan regulations Voter education
Shortened approval periods Involvement of the local
for building projects business community
Figure 21 Other possible solutions to solve workforce housing problems
All of these suggested solutions could work for many communities within New
Hampshire and many of them could even work in cohesion. It is evident that developer
incentives are considered the most important solution. This could be because incentives
could induce developers to build more affordable housing units, such as if costs or other
liabilities were deferred. Developer incentives can be presented in many forms,
depending on the community, one example is density bonuses. “Density bonuses allow
developers to build more units in denser settings, which in turn enables them to recoup
expenses incurred when constructing moderately priced dwelling units” (Hart 2002, 28).
The last question in the survey asked respondents to state whether they are familiar
with the new Senate Bill 342 and if so, how it will affect their town. This bill will
ultimately affect all communities in New Hampshire, as it proposes new standards to be
set forth for the development of more available affordable/workforce housing. Bill 342
is important to the growth of New Hampshire’s economy and is the main reason why
many towns, including Milford, have had to reassess their housing affordability options.
Of 20 responses to this question, 14 stated that they were familiar with the bill while 6
stated that they were not. Of those respondents familiar with the bill, only 4 individuals
stated what various steps their towns have or will take in order to comply with the new
regulations of the bill. Eventually, almost all towns in New Hampshire will have to
provide more affordable housing for the working class families living in their towns.
Evaluation of Second Hypothesis
The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) was used to see if a
Correlation exists between towns with higher median incomes and the opinions of the
survey respondents that there is less need for affordable/workforce housing. A Pearson
Correlation is a type of statistical relationships that measures the degree of association
or equivalence between two sets of continuous data (Fink and Kosecoff 1998, 60). Data
used to run the Pearson Correlation in SPSS was derived from responses to question 1 in
the survey, as well as and the 2007 median incomes of the associated towns. Results of
the correlation are seen in Table 5.
Table 5 SPSS Correlation
Income Pearson Correlation 1.000 .089
Sig. (2-tailed) .752
N 15.000 15
Opinion Pearson Correlation .089 1.000
Sig. (2-tailed) .752
N 15 15.000
Results indicate that there is no significant correlation between a town’s median
income and the perceived need for more affordable/workforce housing. The Pearson
Correlation comes out to be .089, revealing only a very weak to non-existent correlation
between the two datasets. The significant difference value also comes out to be .752,
proving that there is no significant correlation. Figure 22, depicts a scatter plot of the
results of the Pearson correlation. These results show that the respondent’s opinions
and the estimated average median incomes can be quite various, proving that the
second hypothesis is false. These results are fairly revealing, as it was hypothesized that
a town with higher median incomes would have less of a need for affordable/workforce
housing but that is apparently not true. This conclusion proves that while some towns
have higher median incomes than others, there is still a need for more affordable
housing, perhaps for lower income or single parent families.
Figure 22 Scatter Plot of Opinion Vs Income
On the national scale, there are many factors that determine the locations of
affordable housing. It is important to have a workforce that is working and living in the
same community because this is good for the local economy as well as the social
network of the town. Planners and town zoning laws need to be creative and blend
potential projects into the existing landscape, such as renovating older buildings and run
down parts of town with existing infrastructure to solve housing issues. There is
enormous potential for more research on housing at both the national and local as
every community is affected (Streeter, 2003 18-24).
Solutions to the affordable housing dilemma are widespread and all have some
merits. In New Hampshire, the property tax system that supports public education is
directly tied to this issue. Communities, particularly aging communities (New Hampshire
is quickly becoming one of the oldest states), need to become more educated and
familiar with affordable housing issues. These same communities need to stop voting
on zoning regulations making affordable developments unattainable because of the
belief in an influx of new students into the school system and therefore an increase in
their tax base. Many of these communities need to diversify, and add some youth and
families (Francese 2008 18-21).
There have been many successful programs and developments across the
country that have built more affordable housing in order to keep their own workforce in
the same area as well as to attract young potential home buyers. These efforts include
state programs and housing developments that help enable developers to build more
affordable homes and provide new, affordable homes that suit people’s needs. Some of
these successful programs included: the S.M.A.R.T. Housing Initiative in Austin, Texas,
that provided expedited permit reviews and fee waivers, the Moderately Priced
Dwelling Unit Program in Montgomery County, Maryland, which is one of the country’s
most effective inclusionary zoning programs, and the First Ward Place development in
Charlotte, North Carolina which is a mixed-income community that is replacing another
failed public housing project (Haughey 2006). These programs are all very different but
they have all proved successful in paving the pathway to the development of better,
affordable homes. These cases as well as other case stories could prove helpful in aiding
many of New Hampshire’s own communities, including Milford, with successful
examples in order to establish new housing programs and developments that would
work within local communities.
Evidence collected from the survey does support the fact that New Hampshire
has an affordable/workforce issue. While the survey does not draw many clear
conclusions, it certainly shows that there are many varying ideas and opinions to the
severity of the problem as well as many possible solutions. This makes it a necessity for
planners, law makers, and communities to come together to work on this complex crisis.
Ben Frost, Director of Public Affairs at New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority
(NHHFA), notes that the newly passed Senate Bill 342 has caused many New Hampshire
towns to scramble to evaluate their contribution to affordable workforce housing (Frost
2008). Senate Bill 342 was introduced because:
The state of New Hampshire is experiencing a shortage of housing that is
affordable to working households. This housing shortage poses a threat
to the state’s economic growth, presents a barrier to the expansion of
the state’s labor force, undermines state efforts to foster a productive
and self-reliant workforce, and adversely affects the ability of many
communities to host new businesses (New Hampshire Senate).
This bill is intended to provide opportunities for development of workforce housing by
allowing developers to bring issues against the municipalities that unreasonably delay
approval to court where the towns lose control of project approval. It is also responsible
for focusing this project’s attention to the availability of affordable/workforce housing in
Milford, New Hampshire.
For Milford, the number of affordable purchase priced homes as determined by
100 percent of the median household income will not meet the needs of the projected
future population. This can be ascertained by a comparison of the available affordable
parcels to the projected population. The estimated population of Milford in 2006 was
15,054. The population of Milford is projected to be 15,855 by 2010 and 18,106 by the
year 2020 (Figure 12). This is an increase of 3,052 residents in the next 12 years, and
with an average of 2.58 people in a home (U.S. Census), this would require 1,183 new
homes. According to the assessment data, 85 percent of the parcels in Milford are
currently valued at greater than 120 percent of the area’s median income. To rectify this
unbalanced proportion of housing values, the needed new homes should be priced at
values within the affordability scale.
Figure 23 Past and projected population of Milford, New Hampshire
Affordable/workforce housing needs to be addressed more on the national,
state, and local level. The sharp increases in housing have spurred debate about causes,
impacts, and solutions. Low income and middle class housing must be available without
unreasonably burdening residents. Companies need an available workforce and the
workforce should be able to live reasonably close to their place of employment. New
Hampshire needs to become more attractive to companies looking to locate in the state
simply because it will help in all aspects of the economy (Francese 2008, 36-9).
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Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.
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Peter E. Randall Publisher LLC.
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afford: Fifteen success stories. Fannie Mae Foundation; Urban Land Institute.
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New Hampshire’s planning commissions, http://www.nharpc.org/index.html.
(Last accessed 10 October 2008).
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Demographic Data: Housing Characteristics.
http://www.nhhfa.org/demographic_housing.cfm. (last accessed 12 October
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challenge. Setting the stage: affordability and inclusionary zoning. Planning and
zoning conference Manchester, New Hampshire. Power point slide show. Slides
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Appendix A- Survey Instrument
This survey is being conducted by a group of students in the senior seminar class of
the Geography Department at Keene State College in conjunction with the Town of
Milford Community Development Department. Results will be used to ascertain the
perceived need for affordable housing in New Hampshire. (The study will be focused
on the town of Milford, New Hampshire but a broader overview is needed for the
entire state.) Thank You for your time.
Town affiliation: Position:
Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements on a scale from one
to five as shown below:
1 2 3 4 5
Strongly Disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly Agree
1) Lack of affordable housing is an issue in my town.
1 2 3 4 5
2) Household incomes in my town have kept pace with available housing prices.
1 2 3 4 5
3) My town has a manageable population growth rate.
1 2 3 4 5
4) Growth in housing cost is outpacing income growth in my town.
1 2 3 4 5
5) Increases in median rent in the past five years have made rental housing less
1 2 3 4 5
6) There are ample employment opportunities in my town.
1 2 3 4 5
7) Developers should be mandated to provide a percent of affordable housing in
any new housing projects.
1 2 3 4 5
8) Zoning laws should be changed to provide affordable housing if needed.
1 2 3 4 5
Please provide an opinion on the following ideas.
9) Please rank the following according to the highest priority in your town (1 has
the highest priority whereas 6 has the lowest).
____ Economic Growth
10) In your estimation, what percentage of your workforce is forced to commute to
work from outlying towns because they cannot afford to live in yours?
11) Which group do you believe is most impacted by the lack of available workforce
housing in your town? (select one)
Senior (55 and over)
Trained workforce (firefighters, police, mechanics, medical technicians, etc.)
12) Which group do you feel should take the lead in the development of more
workforce housing in your town (town, city and state governments, housing
providers, etc.). ___________________
13) Which solution(s) are best to address the workforce housing problems in towns
affected by a shortage of affordable housing? (Check all that apply)
Housing Trust Funds
Community Development Corporations (CDCs)
Community Land Trusts
Please respond to the following questions.
14) Are you familiar with new Senate Bill 342? ______ Yes ______ No.
If yes, how will it affect your town?
Any additional comments please provide below: