UNH Research Finds Affordable Housing Tough to Come by in Rural Communities

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

DURHAM, N.H. – Many rural places, especially those desired by second-home owners and retirees, are challenged to provide affordable and adequate housing for local working families, according to new research released by the Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

“Though vacant housing is plentiful in rural areas – in New England 29 percent of rural housing units are vacant – it is not necessarily available,” the researchers said. “Three-quarters of New England’s rural vacant housing units are designated for seasonal, recreational or occasional use, while just 3.5 percent are available for rent.”

The researchers also found that land use regulations limit options for developing affordable housing, and that while the federal safety net does provide options for many rural residents struggling with housing costs, the programs are often insufficiently funded.

“Subsidies and publicly funded programs can play a part in alleviating the challenges of affordable rural housing, but addressing the issue in rural places will require a variety of approaches,” the researchers said. “Policy makers need to consider innovative ways to improve and leverage existing housing stock to expand options for local working families.”

The research was conducted by Jess Carson, a vulnerable families research scientist at the Carsey School, and Beth Mattingly, director of research on vulnerable families at the Carsey School. Their full report can be found here: https://carsey.unh.edu/publication/rural-housing-challenges.

The Carsey School of Public Policy conducts research, leadership development, and engaged scholarship relevant to public policy. They address pressing challenges, striving for innovative, responsive, and equitable solutions at all levels of government and in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.

The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in our state, nation and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top ranked programs in business, engineering, law, health and human services, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study. UNH’s research portfolio includes partnerships with NASA, NOAA, NSF and NIH, receiving more than $100 million in competitive external funding every year to further explore and define the frontiers of land, sea and space.