Is Hanover the canary in the coal mine for N.H. housing?


Hanover could be the canary in the coal mine for housing-induced labor shortages in New Hampshire. 

The town has canceled its annual Fall Fest and its after-school program for grades three through five because it can’t find enough staff, the Valley News reported.  

Why can’t the town find enough staff? The town manager cited the region’s housing shortage.

“We’ll have someone interested in a position and then they can’t find housing or can’t find childcare,” he said. 

Hanover’s severe housing shortage has driven prices so high that government employees often have to live out of town because they can’t afford any of the homes in the town for which they work. 

Hanover was New Hampshire’s sixth most housing-restricted community in our study of local land use regulations, published last fall. 

Without relief from overly restrictive planning and zoning ordinances, more New Hampshire communities are likely to experience similar service cuts. Local regulations that make it difficult to build anything but higher-end housing can create or worsen labor shortages by driving out middle- and lower-income residents. 

This exact scenario is playing out in higher-cost communities nationwide. New Hampshire is not immune. We’ll probably see more stories like this before voters are prompted to act.