It is true, Portsmouth is an expensive place to live, I arrived here in my early 20's after UNH, and rented for 11 years, it wasn't till my early 30's, that I could afford to buy a very small house on my own, and have been here 9 years. Portsmouth is a great place to live, but if you are a young family, you should evaluate your finances and rent for years, and save for a down payment on a house, it may take 10 years, we all (40 somethings) had to do it and they will too, there is no firm answer
We don't have enough housing in the affordable workforce range. In one of the other questions I provided some ideas about what needs to happen to encourage the development of additional options. Most of us in our younger years needed to rent for quite awhile (and perhaps share housing with others) to save enough to afford a down payment on a "starter" house--usually not the house of our dreams. That is still the path although I realize that those early stages need to occur in other lower cost communities given the scarcity of options in Portsmouth.
My thoughts are that we need more of affordable housing and must work to partner with the city, the state, and the Federal government to create programs that cater to young, working class families in order for them to secure housing. Mortgage subsidies, rent to own programs, zoning to induce builders to include affordable housing in their projects, and even "micro" apartments will help to provide needed housing. Keeping our economy strong and being able to offer good paying jobs to our young will also go a long way to making owning or renting a new home possible.
Portsmouth is only going to get to be less affordable. The more money that we spend the more that we are required to tax. The price of real estate is going up in a down market. One of my biggest fears is that Portsmouth will one day simply not be affordable by the middle class. I've been to communities where this has already happened and they might look lovely but they have no diversity. We have to control spending so that we don't obligate future generations.
There is very little or no affordable housing in Portsmouth. Here is an example...If a duplex in the city costs about $250,000.00. to rent each side in order to pay the mortgage would be far above any rate that would be affordable for a low income family. With the present valuation of homes and the cost of a home in Portsmouth, affordable housing does not seem like a priority.
Jim SplaineBy working with developers and allowing more smaller-scale apartments, including "dorm" style settings, housing becomes more affordable. Quality, safe, comfortable housing need not include a lot of space. With proper design, a 400 or 500 square foot studio apartment can do well for one or two people, at least as a starter-home or on a temporary basis. My mobile home where I have lived for 15 years is 12 feet by 52, and includes a kitchen/living room, and two bedrooms, plus a bathroom. Admittedly small, but fine for me and another person if I had a husband or a friend living with me. Having more mobile home availability, or other small-scale housing can meet a demand, and fill a market.
We need to work with our surrounding towns to make affordable housing for all. The one thing that is very clear in order to grow as a city and state we need to make sure the young people stay in our communities. This affords us a diversified population.
As I referenced in responding to one of the previous questions, I think that keeping Portsmouth an affordable place to live is critical if we want to maintain a diverse community of people, young and old, working in a full range of occupations. It is essential that we preserve housing that is already affordable given the current trend of turning apartments into expensive condominums. Each time we approve one of these projects, we lose more rental housing. I think that this loss of housing is bad for the city. We need to not only preserve our existing affordable housing, but we also need to expand the supply.
Affordable housing is a key component of the Master Plan, but although plenty of lip service has been paid to it by the City Council and the business community, not much has been done about it.Making housing affordable is complicated. The unfortunate reality is that real estate prices have risen so dramatically in recent years that, absent government intervention, there is not much that can be done to make Portsmouth affordable for minimum wage earners and others at the lower end of the income scale. So far, such government intervention has been lacking, even though the city’s Master Plan suggests that the city should become involved in new development to make sure that affordable housing units are created. The business owners themselves have little incentive to provide for affordable housing, for it cuts into their bottom line. For all the so-called “mixed-use development” projects that have been approved in recent years, precious little “workforce housing” has resulted. From the standpoint of a waiter, waitress, or retail shop worker, there is nothing “affordable” about a $400,000 condominium unit. Renting becomes more problematic, too, for as real estate values rise, so do rents.On an aspirational level, one thing that would help would be for restaurant owners and other business owners to pay their employees a living wage, including health insurance coverage, so that the employees can afford to pay for housing in town. The business owners could also directly subsidize affordable housing, as has, in fact, been suggested in the Master Plan. After all, these business owners are the ones who are demanding workforce housing so that they will be able to adequately staff their businesses. It is only fair that they pay for at least part of the cost of same. So far, however, I have not seen any business owners who are willing to do that. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about these problems unless the City Council and the city administration start flexing their muscles. Until the City holds the developers’ feet to the fire and insists that affordable housing units be set aside as a condition for approval of their projects, not much is likely to change.