Employers Are Stepping Up to Help Their Staff Secure Affordable Housing
John and Maggie Randolph are business owners in Dover, New Hampshire who run and operate Harmony Homes, an assisted living company with two locations in Durham. While New Hampshire’s cost of living and cost for housing has risen sharply over the years, employees and employers alike have raised concerns over their future housing prospects. The Randolphs thought a 21% pay increase would help but found that to fall short.
So, to help their employees, the Randolphs decided to build a clustered community of 44 cottages (or tiny homes) in Dover to rent out to their workers for below the current market rate.
New Hampshire’s Affordable Housing Crisis
Increasing rents, skyrocketing home prices, low vacancy rates, and out-of-state movers are all factoring into New Hampshire’s current lack of affordable housing. For years, the state has seen housing and rental prices rise due to high demand with little development to curb the hot streak.
New Hampshire has a higher-than-average cost of living, and it’s one of the most expensive states to purchase a home with a median listing price of $310,000. The shortage of homes became so critical that employers became concerned for their employees.
That’s when business owners like the Randolphs have stepped in and shown others how to move beyond concern and into action.
Harmony Homes’ Tiny Home Community Cottages
When the Randolphs realized the stress being put on their employees due to the housing market, they knew they had to do something to help. Many of their 70+ employees commute more than a half-hour each way, and with rental prices rising, even money for gas can become tight. To offer relief to their staff, they dreamt up Harmony Homes’ tiny home community cottages - similar to tiny home communities that can be found throughout the Granite State, though most tiny households are scattered across the state moving as they please.
Each of the Harmony Homes' cottages will be either a one- or two-bedroom space that can provide employees an affordable home that’s close to work and meets their needs. The Randolphs expect to spend around $3.8 million on the project and will break ground this spring. On top of this endeavor, the business owners are also planning to build a $1 million apartment complex featuring a childcare facility for their Harmony Home employees.
John Randolph said the staff is “crucial ... to being able to provide loving and affordable care to our residents. In order for us to attract the highest quality staff possible, we increased all of our standard benefits but kept hearing over and over how hard it was to find housing in the area they could afford, as well as childcare. So we turned this building, originally slated to be a 55-plus duplex, into one that will have up to seven apartments for residents of any age and a childcare (facility).”
How You Can Help Your Fellow New Hampshirites
Outside of federal assistance for low-income renters, there is also aid available for New Hampshire homeowners. For homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage or facing foreclosure, there are resources available through the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. You can lend a helping hand by supplying struggling homeowners with information on aid they can receive from both the state and federal programs.
For more information on how you can help, visit New Hampshire Housing’s website.