CLAREMONT, N.H. — New Hampshire residents may be warming up to the idea of amending the state’s building codes to encourage more affordable housing, a recent study suggests.
The poll, conducted by the St. Anselm Center for Ethics in Community, polled New Hampshire voters about housing issues facing the state.
“60 percent of New Hampshire residents believe our towns and cities should change land use regulations in order to allow more housing to be built,” the report stated. Survey respondents also favored changes to planning and zoning regulations to stimulate more housing projects.
Claremont City Manager Yoshi Manali said city officials are applying for federal grants to study how to connect workers to better jobs. The grants will allow the city to study issues related to workforce strength and stability, such as transportation, housing and availability of child care.
Nancy Merrill, director of Claremont’s Department of Planning and Development, said the city is looking to create a strategic approach to the entire workforce issue. For example, her department is applying for a grant to develop a strategic plan that looks at barriers to full-time employment, such as transportation, housing, job training, child care, and whether potential employees have all the tools and equipment needed to do so. job.
“I think there is a very serious misunderstanding when it comes to building and fire codes,” Merrill said. “These are state codes. The only thing we can do in Claremont, when it comes to building codes, is make them more difficult. We are not authorized to amend these building codes to make them easier. We get frustrated with them (codes) as well. People think this is just a matter of It belongs to Claremont, which it is not.
Building codes serve a purpose, said DeForest Pierce, Claremont’s planning and development officer.
“Zoning ordinances are how the land is used — how the land is developed,” she said. “Building codes are sticks and bricks. How you build those buildings that go on the ground. I’m a complete supporter of building codes. They keep people safe, that’s their primary concern. I will fight tooth and nail for that. I believe in it wholeheartedly.”
Bearse’s says they’ve seen too many tragedies where building inspectors or the city have blocked roads and people’s lives have been damaged or lost.
She said the rules “may be burdensome for some, but I’m a firm believer in them.” “Because their only goal is to keep us safe.”
Real estate agents in the area also point to a shortage of workforce and middle-class housing as a problem for new employees in the county city.
Town and Country Realtors Peg Chabot and her son DJ Chabot, who manage more than 100 area apartments and rental properties, said apartments haven’t opened, and people are staying put because there’s nowhere to move to. Even when the new mill apartments opened, they lost very few residents.
“Now the mill is full and nothing is moving,” DJ Chabot said. “I will send out 40 (rental) applications for properties and (agencies) will not respond to any of them.”
In Lebanon, New Hampshire, renters are looking for $2,000 a month for a studio, he added.
The Chabots agreed that although they would like to see businesses grow in the area, housing is a barrier to that.
“We don’t have the capacity to house workers,” DJ Chabot said.
Both Rose Kaplan, owner of Century 21 Highview Real Estate in Claremont, and agent Deborah Booth agree that workforce housing is tight. They also point the finger at the city for its strict enforcement of housing laws on older properties, as well as new buildings being planned.
Booth suggests housing applicants “fill out the rental application completely, be honest and don’t list friends as previous landlords.”
“Then make copies of the application, and send those applications to all the real estate agencies in the area. Most importantly, follow up regularly every few weeks at each agency.
She also said there is a new rental property search service called Rent Spree that has seen success in matching renters with housing. However, this site is only available through the Multiple Listing Service system, so people will need to use a licensed agent to take advantage of this service.