North Country Housing Needs Analysis Offers Insight into Community’s Housing Needs

August 19, 2021

New Hampshire’s bucolic North Country is far from the metro feel of the southern tier of the state. Yet despite the striking contrast in landscape, population and economic activity, according to a new analysis the two regions have much in common when it comes to housing needs and availability. 

Housing inventories in the state are at record lows, prices are escalating, and there is a dearth of affordable rental units and homes for purchase. Yet there are characteristics of the North Country’s housing market that distinguish the region. For example, despite relatively low housing costs, affordability is still an issue for more than a third of households there. This in turn highlights the finding that relatively lower wages are a significant contributor to the region’s housing challenges. 

The North Country Housing Needs Analysis was undertaken over 12 months to provide a comprehensive review of the housing needs of New Hampshire’s North Country, with a focus on Coös County. It includes research, focus groups interviews, and surveys. Interviews with community stakeholders, including residents, housing professionals, social service providers, business leaders and housing advocates, show the impact of regional housing trends on the lives and livelihoods of North Country residents. The interviews also helped to identify housing practices and solutions as they have emerged in local communities. 

Additionally, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the North Country’s housing market was evaluated, recognizing the historic rise in prices and sales and the implications of those changes.

The report’s findings were voiced by these three stakeholders who participated in “Lunch & Talk” interviews about the region’s housing trends, as well as many others interviewed:

  • “When people are struggling to make ends meet and our housing stock, particularly quality rental units is so limited, people are forced into bad situations, which impacts our next generation. We need to support the people who are here so that the next generation has the support and safety to grow and thrive.” – Mollie White, Executive Director, Coös Coalition for Children & Young Families

  • “People want to work, but they are always struggling to figure out how to make a year-round living in this industry and this area. I’ve seen cycles to housing over the 16 years I’ve been in this role. Now is a particularly tough one.” – Ben Wilcox, General Manager, Cranmore Resort

  • “The problem [with the housing market in my area] is the jobs and the income. When people come to town to work, they have to figure something out for housing. They move to the area and they find a job, but then they have to find housing. With the tenants I have, every month I hear stories of why paying the rent is a struggle. I do not make my income off these properties.” – Bonnie Ham, rental property owner and State Representative Lincoln/Woodstock area

At a time when housing markets throughout the country are experiencing an acute supply shortage and escalating prices, this study provides deep analysis of the forces now impacting the North Country’s housing market. It also presents a number of policy recommendations specifically tailored to the region’s unique needs and characteristics. 

The North Country Housing Needs Analysis was a joint effort of New Hampshire Housing, North Country Council (NCC), and Stepwise Data Research. Funding was provided by the Neil and Louise Tillotson Fund at the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, NCC, and New Hampshire Housing. NCC is one of nine regional planning commissions in New Hampshire and serves in an advisory role to local governments to promote coordinated planning, orderly growth, efficient land use, transportation access, and environmental protection.  

New Hampshire Housing Reports, Studies & Data   

  • North Country Housing Needs Analysis 
  • 2021 New Hampshire Residential Rental Cost Survey Report  
  • Housing Market Reports 
  • NHHFA FY20 Annual Report 
  • State housing market economic and demographic data 

About New Hampshire Housing: As a self-supporting public corporation, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority promotes, finances and supports affordable housing. NHHFA operates rental and homeownership programs designed to assist low- and moderate-income persons with obtaining affordable housing. We have helped more than 50,000 families purchase their own homes and been instrumental in financing the creation of more than 15,000 multi-family housing units. NHHousing.org