Saint Anselm Center For Ethics Releases 2023 New Hampshire Policy Survey

August 22, 2023

Saint Anselm College Surveys Voter Attitudes toward NH’s Housing Crisis 

MANCHESTER, NH – The Center for Ethics in Society at Saint Anselm College released its annual statewide survey of voter attitudes toward New Hampshire’s housing crisis today.

The Center’s 2023 survey results show dramatic changes in the pro-housing direction. The new data show New Hampshire residents have become increasingly supportive of affordable housing in their communities. It also shows residents have become more supportive of legislative changes to make it easier to build multi-family housing not just in the state, but in their local neighborhoods. 

The survey was sponsored by Citizens. The poll was conducted by the Saint Anselm College Survey Center from July 18-20, 2023. 646 registered New Hampshire voters were surveyed, with a margin of sampling error of +/-3.9% and a confidence interval of 95%.

“These most recent polling numbers reflect that New Hampshire is becoming aware that fixing the housing shortage is a matter of urgency, even a moral imperative,” said Dr. Max Latona, Executive Director of the College’s Center for Ethics in Society. “It is becoming more apparent to all of us that the affordable housing crisis is a matter of ethics, as it touches on questions of justice and equity, individual rights and the common good.” 

“Access to housing is a critical issue for our economy and our workforce here in New Hampshire,” said Joe Carelli, President of Citizens, New Hampshire and Vermont. “Citizens is committed to fostering strong communities and supports the Center’s important work identifying prospective solutions to encourage the development of more affordable housing and access to opportunities where our neighbors can grow and thrive.”

“The severity of the housing shortage is clearly generating unprecedented support for more affordable housing solutions,” said Elissa Margolin, director of Housing Action NH, a statewide affordable housing coalition. “We look forward to working with policy makers who are ready to respond to voter sentiment and increase housing in New Hampshire.”

Support for pro-housing positions was widespread across subpopulations, but young people and retirees were especially supportive. Non-homeowners supported more affordable housing in their communities at a 95% rate. All gender, age, education, income, homeowner vs. non-homeowner, and region subpopulations supported changing zoning regulations to allow more housing. Not one of these subpopulations showed a majority for keeping multifamily out of suburbs and rural areas or for doing more to prevent development.

The top seven takeaways are: 

1.     78% of New Hampshire voters think that their communities need more affordable housing to be built.

In 2023, the biggest change in public opinion came on a question asking for agreement or disagreement with the statement, “My community needs more affordable housing to be built.” Net agreement rose from +40 to +60 (78% agreeing, only 18% disagreeing). Young people are especially sensitive to the housing crisis: notably, not a single voter under 35 disagreed with the “more affordable housing in my community” position. 

2.              58% of New Hampshire voters now want more affordable homes in their own neighborhoods. 

New Hampshire is seeing a decline in NIMBYISM (not-in-my-backyard sentiment). More residents are recognizing the need for affordable homes not just in the state and their communities, but even in their own neighborhoods. Net agreement with the statement, “My neighborhood needs more affordable housing to be built” grew from +7 in 2022 to +21 in 2023 (58% agreeing, 37% disagreeing). 

3.              60% of New Hampshirites think that our towns and cities should adjust their land use regulations in order to allow more housing to be built.

A remarkable swing was observed on the question asking for agreement or disagreement with the statement, “New Hampshire towns and cities should change their planning and zoning regulations in order to allow more housing to be built.” Net agreement went from +12 to +26 (60% agreeing, 34% disagreeing), a statistically significant change. 

4.              Most people in New Hampshire want to see more changes to allow housing development.

The Center’s annual survey asks about anti-housing statements, and each year the numbers agreeing with these statements declines. Net agreement with the statement, “New Hampshire should do more to prevent housing development and keep the state the way it is” declined from -11 net agreement to -24 (35% agreeing and 59% disagreeing with this anti-housing statement).

5.              Support for “missing-middle” housing is growing annually, and now significantly outnumbers opposition.

The state’s ongoing housing shortage is caused by excessively strict planning and zoning regulations, according to local economists. The recently released New Hampshire Zoning Atlas by the Center for Ethics in Society showed that only 16% of the state’s buildable land area is zoned for single-family homes on less than an acre of land, and only 11% is available for duplexes on small lots. Many planners now advocate broader planning permission for so-called “missing middle” housing: two-, three-, and four-unit structures that can fit into walkable residential neighborhoods. Accordingly, state legislators have proposed a bill to allow property owners to build duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes on any property served by municipal water and sewer, and where the zoning allows residential development. While many voters are still undecided about this legislation, support now significantly outnumbers opposition.Net support of the “fourplex bill” grew from +3 net support to +16 net support (43% agreeing, 27% disagreeing).

6.              A majority of voters want to see affordable rental options in all communities, not just in our largest cities. 

On the remaining policy question, net agreement with the anti-housing statement — “Our suburbs and rural towns should have mostly just single-family homes. Apartments, duplexes, and townhouses should be built only in cities” — fell from -24 to -31 (33% agreeing, 64% disagreeing), but the change was not quite statistically significant.

7.              35% of homeowners would like to build an ADU, but simply can’t afford it.

This year’s survey also asked homeowners whether they had ever considered building an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). Ten percent of respondents said they had built one, 34% said they are considering it, and 56% said they have never considered it. Of those who have not built one, the most commonly cited “primary obstacle” was the expense (35%). Local regulations were cited by 9% of respondents as the primary obstacle.

About the Center for Ethics in Society

The Center for Ethics in Society at Saint Anselm College was founded in 2017 as a forum for research, discourse, and education about pressing ethical issues in New Hampshire’s communities and organizations. For more information, go to

About Citizens Financial Group, Inc.

Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is one of the nation’s oldest and largest financial institutions, with $222.3 billion in assets as of March 31, 2023. Headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island, Citizens offers a broad range of retail and commercial banking products and services to individuals, small businesses, middle-market companies, large corporations and institutions. Citizens helps its customers reach their potential by listening to them and by understanding their needs in order to offer tailored advice, ideas and solutions. In Consumer Banking, Citizens provides an integrated experience that includes mobile and online banking, a full-service customer contact center and the convenience of approximately 3,400 ATMs and more than 1,100 branches in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Consumer Banking products and services include a full range of banking, lending, savings, wealth management and small business offerings. In Commercial Banking, Citizens offers a broad complement of financial products and solutions, including lending and leasing, deposit and treasury management services, foreign exchange, interest rate and commodity risk management solutions, as well as loan syndication, corporate finance, merger and acquisition, and debt and equity capital markets capabilities. More information is available at or visit us on TwitterLinkedIn or Facebook.