Message From the Director
Affordable Single-Family Homes
Last week, I participated in a panel discussion for Leadership Lakes Region about the local residential real estate market. I was on the panel with Chris Kelly of REMAX Bayside and Brendan Connolly of Keller Williams. For me, the experience really reinforced the decision of Lakes Region Community Developers to start developing affordable single-family homes for sale to households who make between 75% and 120% of the area median income (roughly $57,000 to $85,000 for a family of four in Belknap County).
According to data on New Hampshire Realtors’ website, the median purchase price of a single-family home in Belknap County in 1998 was $97,000 ($147,975 in 2017 dollars). At the end of 2017, the median price was $229,000 (2017 dollars). That is an increase of 55% over 20 years. We all know that wages have not increased 55% in real terms in the last 20 years!
According to the Social Security Administration, average wages have increased by 13% in that period, after adjusting for inflation. You see a much worse picture if you look at changes in wages of middle and lower income earners only. If you want to read more about that, you can check out the Economic Policy Institute. But I digress…The point is that the cost of owning a home has increased a lot more than wages.
As our panel discussion unfolded, I was fascinated to hear Chris and Brendan talk about the competition, for lack of a better word, for housing between young couples and retirees. They described a typical scenario these days when showing a “regular house.” We didn’t define it exactly, but I took it to mean a fairly standard two-to-three bedroom house. The interested buyers are either young couples looking for their first home or retirees who are downsizing and typically have equity and savings to help them with their purchase. It’s pretty obvious who ends up getting the house in a tight market such as we have now – the older couple with more purchasing power.
I share this to highlight a pretty serious dilemma that we face as a state and as a region. We are practically begging young people to stay here or move back because we have a serious workforce shortage. But we don’t talk about the fact that there is very little suitable housing for them here that they can afford.
All of the resources available in New Hampshire to help organizations like Lakes Region Community Developers build affordable housing are used to subsidize the development of multi-family rental properties. But the demographic we so desperately want to stay here or move back here does not want an apartment forever (or maybe at all). Many want to buy their own house. Unfortunately, private developers are not building starter homes because the cost of land and infrastructure make it too expensive for them to make a profit.
We need state policymakers to look at whether we are spending our affordable housing dollars in a way that will help us address this dilemma. We also need local communities who are willing to work with us to find creative ways to reduce the cost of building starter homes for young families. If your community is interested in working with us to address this imbalance, please give me a call. We would love to speak with you. Thank you.
Carmen R. Lorentz
DipJar - New Location
Join in our 25th Anniversary by dipping for $1 in Lakes Region Community Developers' DIPJAR. The DIPJAR will be traveling around the Lakes Region during 2018 to a different local business each month. In February, the DIPJAR is at anothe one of our favorite local spots - Annie's Cafe & Catering at 138 Gilford Ave., Laconia, NH 03246. Thank you to all who have already dipped and supported our efforts to provide our community with healthy homes, as they are the foundation of a healthy community.
Kara LaSalle, our own Real Estate Development Project Manager, was chosen as one of the Union Leaders' 2018 40 Under Forty. The Union Leader’s 40 Under Forty program recognizes some of the state’s brightest young achievers who have a record of professional and volunteer accomplishments in New Hampshire. Kara's passion for helping others and her community makes her a deserved recipient of this recognition. Congratulations Kara!
Come Celebrate 25 Years
New Resident Resource Center
With generous donations from Grappone Automotive Group, Toyota Motor Sales, Sheehan Phinney, and Bank of New Hampshire we were able to build a 350 square foot co-working space in our Transitional Housing building. We call it the Resident Resource Center. It provides high-speed internet, two desktop computers, a laser printer, a work table for meetings or larger projects, and a play area for children. Residents have used it to complete job applications, apply for enrichment programs and scholarships for their kids, do homework, and for telecommuting.
Our Transitional Housing Program provides safe shelter and intensive case management for homeless families while they work on securing stable employment and permanent housing. We can accommodate four families at one time in our program. None of the families come into our program with the digital access they need to be successful. Some have cell phones, but none have computers with internet access. This is a huge barrier to success in work and school. The Resource Center has had a positive impact on the families in our Transitional Program and has provided a critical tool to help them succeed.
HOMEteam News - HomeBuyer Seminar Laconia
If you want to learn more about buying your home or are not sure where to start, join us for the next Home Buyer Seminar, Saturday, April 21st from 8:30am to 4:30pm at Lakes Region Community Services on 719 North Main Street, Laconia. This program reviews the Steps to Home Ownership and gives you the tools and resources needed to make good financial decisions at every stage of the home buying process.
The Steps to Home Ownership:
Green Tip - Winter Farmers' Markets
As a NeighborWorks America Green Designated Organization we have incorporated green practices across all lines of business. As an organization it is important to us that we remain steadfast stewards of our precious resources and inspire our neighbors to see the value and ease of incorporating green practices into their lives. We hope you enjoy our monthly Green Tip.
In North America, fruits and vegetables travel an average of 1,500 miles before reaching your plate. Buying fresh, local food eliminates long distances traveled and preserves flavor and nutrients. Great - but it's winter! Not to worry there are some options. Click here to see a list of Winter Farmers' Markets.