[Hpn] Housing costs to high in Lakes Region

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Sun, 9 Nov 2003 11:01:14 -0500


November 9, 2003
Housing costs too high in the Lakes Region
By VICTORIA GUAY
Staff Writer
Many Lakes Region residents are paying more than 35 percent of their income
on housing costs, according to a demographic profile released by the Lakes
Region Planning Commission.
The profile, released earlier this year by LRPC, compiled information about
the region from the 2000 U.S. Census. Affordable housing is defined as being
30 percent of a household's income.
"There does seem to be a shortage of workforce and affordable housing in the
state, including the Lakes Region," said Kimon Koulet, executive director of
the Lakes Region Planning Commission. "And if people who are making moderate
incomes are having trouble finding affordable housing, it's not going to
help the local economy, it's going to drive people away."
Koulet noted that the average price for homes has increased over the last 10
years, with the most expensive communities in terms of housing remaining the
communities on the northeast side of Lake Winnipesaukee.
The demographic profile identifies Holderness, Center Harbor,
Moultonborough, Tuftonboro and Wolfeboro as having the highest housing costs
in the region.
The median value of an owner-occupied home in the state was $133,300 in
2000. In the Lakes Region, 11 out of 30 communities had median values that
were higher than that.
The most expensive communities in terms of median home values are Hebron,
which is on the north shore of Newfound Lake and has a median value of
$175,000, followed by Tuftonboro at $158,000, Moultonborough also at
$158,000 and Center Harbor at $150,000.
Rental costs are also increasing, requiring people to use a larger
percentage of their income for housing.
According to the profile, of those renters who pay over 25 percent of their
income on housing, a startling majority pay 35 percent or more on housing,
making housing unaffordable for many Lakes Region residents.
Among the communities where people pay the highest percentage of their
incomes on housing include Gilmanton, Freedom, Alton, Danbury, Belmont,
Franklin and Ossipee.
In Danbury, a whopping 78.3 percent of all renters paying over 25 percent of
their income on housing costs are paying 35 percent or more of their income.
In Freedom it's 75 percent, in Gilmanton it's 72.4 percent, in Alton it is
67.4 percent and in Ossipee it's 64.2 percent.
In the region's cities of Laconia and Franklin, 56.6 percent and 62.3
percent of renters who pay over 25 percent also pay 35 percent or more of
their income on housing.
Median household incomes in the Lakes Region, according to the profile,
range between $52,000 in Center Harbor to $33,000 in Ashland, the community
with the lowest median household income of the 30 Lakes Region communities.
Koulet said the Planning Commission is about to begin a more detailed
analysis of the region's housing situation. A Regional Housing Needs
Assessment will begin after the first of the year.
While the information in the profile is helpful, Koulet noted that a lot of
things, such as median home values and rental costs, have changed since the
2000 Census, on which the profile is based.
Some of the more interesting facts contained in the demographic profile
include commuting patterns, said Koulet, which reveal that although an
increasing number of Lakes Region residents are commuting to jobs outside
the region, a majority of residents still travel to work within the Lakes
Region.
"Even though the Lakes Region appears to be becoming more and more
suburban - with people living here but commuting to labor markets in the
southern part of the state and into Massachusetts - we found that 71 percent
of Lakes Region residents still commute from one Lakes Region town to
another," Koulet said.
Another interesting fact to come out of the profile is that while most
people think the service and hospitality industries are the biggest
employers in the Lakes Region, the majority of residents work in education,
health or social service positions.
According to the profile, a total of 10,940 people work in education, health
and social service jobs; while only 6,883 work in service and hospitality
related jobs and 7,734 work in retail.
The profile also revealed that Moultonborough is the town which has
experienced the most growth over the last two decades.
According to the profile, Moultonborough experienced a 51.7 increase in its
population between 1990 and 2000, growing by 1,528 people, from 2,596
year-round residents in 1990 to 4,484 in 2000.

Victoria Guay can be reached at 524-3800 ext. 5937 or by e-mail at
vguay@citizen.com

 2003 Geo. J. Foster Company