Claira Monier’s housing wisdom


In a few weeks, the Business and Industry Association will present its Lifetime Achievement Award to the imminently deserving Claira Monier, director of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority from 1988-2007. With New Hampshire housing prices setting new records every month, the timing couldn’t be better.

Had local elected officials listened to Monier over the years, New Hampshire would not have a housing crisis today. For decades, she’s advocated for the freedom to build. Local boards have instead restricted that freedom.

Today, thanks to a massive shortage of apartments and single-family homes, the median two-bedroom rent in the state is nearly $1,500, and the median home price is $410,000. 

In a New Hampshire Business Review profile of Monier, she calls the housing shortage “the major issue in the state” and identifies its root cause.

This was her analysis from 2007:

“In my mind, it is restrictions at the local level. It came about in the ’80s when we saw this massive migration of population here in New Hampshire because of our economic growth. The towns, in response, said, ‘We don’t want any more growth. We don’t want it to happen that fast. Let’s put land use restriction in place.’ And I think that’s been a major factor in inhibiting the growth of the housing market.”

Regarding local land-use boards, she pegged the problem with precision:

“They know the need for housing; they just want it to happen somewhere else. NIMBY is very alive and well.”

We’re pleased to see her receive such an honor, and her ideas receive renewed attention. The housing shortage in New Hampshire is old and getting worse, and she’s offered wise solutions for decades. Perhaps the current crisis will at last cause people to heed her counsel. 

For anyone interested in learning more about the state’s housing crisis and discussing ways to solve it, our land use regulation conference on October 12 is a great opportunity. 

We’re releasing a new report, Land Use Regulation In N.H.: Causes and Consequences, and hosting a discussion in partnership with the Center for Ethics in Society at St. Anselm College. 

To attend either in person or via Zoom, and to learn more about the study and the panel, follow this link.