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Nov 3, 2016 5:21 PM

NH seacoast experiences labor shortages due to expensive living costs

Gail Huff

PORTSMOUTH — New Hampshire’s seacoast is one of the most expensive places in the country to live, and this high cost of housing is creating a new problem: a serious labor shortage.

“You will see 7,000 new jobs over the next five years. That means 5,000 new housing accommodations,” said Russ Thibeault, a Granite State Economist.

How can clerks, cops and carpenters work in the Portsmouth area when they can't afford to buy a house or rent? The median rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Portsmouth is $1,400/month.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of new jobs being created on the seacoast,” said Chris Davies, a seacoast real estate developer who attended a first-ever Seacoast Housing Summit at UNH Thursday. It brought together housing advocates and business people.

“If we want the products and services we have then we have to be able to house those people who provide the services,” Robin Comstock, Executive Director of the Seacoast Workforce Housing Coalition, told NH1 News.

A first-of-it's-kind workforce housing proposal on Echo Ave. in Portsmouth would mean 80 apartments rented at two-thirds the market rate. But neighbors are fighting the project because they say it would be unsafe for their neighborhood.

That “not in my backyard” attitude, coupled with onerous regulations, make it very difficult for developers to find suitable and affordable housing projects on the seacoast.

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