Housing is … the keystone of community development

by Robin LeBlanc | Dec 28th, 2017 | Leave a comment

Housing is the backbone of a community and the keystone of community development. So begins the summary of the first section (Housing) of the 2017 report of the Governor’s Millennial Advisory Council.

As stated in the report’s Overview,

The Governor’s Millennial Advisory Council was created by Governor Sununu’s Executive Order 2017-07. The Council is charged with providing the Governor with recommendations, insight, suggestions, and feedback on matters of State policy that directly impact the attraction and retention of young workers.

The Council divided itself into four sub-committees, each looking at a specific area of policy, including workforce development, the environment, transportation and more, including housing.

At Plan NH, we are particularly interested in housing.   Where we live drives who our friends are, our schedules (eg, school, jobs, getting to the store or healthcare), our personal finances and yes, even our physical and mental health.  Housing is critical to the health and well-being not only of the individuals who live in a town or neighborhood, but, as noted in the opening quote above, to the well-being of the community itself.

And, as the report underscores, without choices in decent, affordable places to live, it is difficult to attract workers to fill the myriad job openings we now have in the state and to grow our economic base in the years to come.

High quality of life, like that of New Hampshire, is increasingly important to economic development, with millennials increasingly selecting a place to live before choosing employment. This shift presents a great opportunity and creates a demand for housing as the State seeks to attract and retain millennials. For young people, housing availability is often the initial barrier of entry to live, work, and thrive in New Hampshire.

Decent, affordable places to live are hard to come by right now, especially in active, walkable communities.   Millennials want to live there – as do Boomers who want to downsize.  Desire drives demand which drives up prices and reduces availability.

To simply build new homes – of diverse design, location and price-point – is not as easy as it sounds.

What can we do – as communities, as a state?  The report includes several policy and other recommendations.

At Plan NH, we do not have the answer, or even an answer.  But what we can do is raise awareness that this is a serious issue that we all need to work together on to address.

Where we live

by Robin LeBlanc | May 22nd, 2017 | Leave a comment

Where we live – and how our home is designed, including layout and quality of materials impacts out health and well-being.

Most of us take it for granted that our homes are safe and healthy havens at the end of a day.  But for many, it is not so simple.  We may be able to afford the space, but getting to work is expensive, and our stress levels rise.   We may live in the home we have lived in for many years, but now we find stairs difficult, if not impossible.

We just heard a short story from a pediatrician:  she was treating a young girl who had asthma.  They thought it had cleared up, but suddenly it returned with a vengeance. As you probably know, asthma is not just a “breathing problem,” but is extremely serious.  This young girl was in a grim situation. What had changed?  Turns out, they had gotten a cat. Why? there were mice in the bed.  We can imagine the quality of the home they were living in.  She said, “I consider a safe, affordable and decent home a vaccine.”

Our communities as a whole are not healthy if parts of it are not, especially our homes.  What challenges are some of your community members facing regarding where they  live, and what can you, as a community, do to overcome them?