Workforce Housing

When residents live and work in the same community, there are lasting positive impacts. People have more time to be involved in civic life, support local businesses, and invest themselves in the long-term health of the community. They save money and reduce environmental impacts from commuting. Local employers benefit, too, when their employees have stable housing they can afford.

Vital Communities stewards a network of business, municipal, nonprofit, and community leaders focused on meeting the Upper Valley’s workforce housing needs.

Our Corporate Council of regional business leaders is committed to making progress on workforce housing, an issue of critical importance to our communities and economy. We also host a Business Leaders’ Breakfast on Housing each spring and fall.

If you have questions, suggestions, or just want to connect, please email us. Want to help support efforts for workforce housing? Make a donation to Vital Communities today.

Recent Events

From the Outskirts to Downtown: Taxes, Land Use & Value in 15 New Hampshire Communities

October 15, 2020 | 10:00 am

Venue :Virtual

Property taxes are the key revenue source for New Hampshire’s local governments. This highly visual and engaging virtual presentation by Joe Minicozzi of Urban3 is based on his analysis of the taxes, land use, and land value in 15 communities across the state. Watch the compelling video from the Oct 15 event, or read the report here.

Land Use and Our LOCAL Economy: Options that Help Communities Prosper

October 29, 2020 | 11:00 am      Venue :Virtual






Learn the impact of our past and current choices about how we use our property, and help shape our choices for a prosperous future. See how Claremont, Hanover, Lebanon, are adding value to our region in this presentation by Joe Minicozzi of Urban 3.  Read the report here.

In The News

How Many and What Kinds of Homes Have We Created?

We worked with staff of 29 towns to measure the number, type, and value of new places to live that have been created in each municipality from 2010 to 2019. Here is the summary of results, and the details by town.


Could You Use $30,000 to Create a New Rental?

Vermont has $30,000 grants available for rehab of properties to create rental spaces. Read more and apply at our partner sites Windham & Windsor Housing Trust for Windsor County, or Downstreet Housing for Orange County.


Lead Abatement in Claremont:  $10,000 Grants Available

Upper Valley Habitat has committed $30,000 to Claremont Lead Removal Grants Program. Priority will be given to families with children who are living in buildings with confirmed or suspected lead. Read more and apply…




Survey Results are in – over 1,200 responses!

Plus – creative options for homes in our neighborhoods.

Explore the survey results here, and read more in the September newsletter. Keys to the Valley is a joint project of Vital Communities, our three Regional Planning Commissions, and over 20 other partners.


Pandemic Brings Opportunity for Home Availability and Affordability – Inspiring Thoughts from our Partners

“The goal is to fix a broken system, to prevent a future outbreak of COVID-19, and to build a bridge from the use of temporary motels to permanent housing options.” …Read more

“As Congress and the Vermont Legislature debate how to revive the economy and where to spend public money, they might be wise to consider building more affordable housing.” …Read more


Creating the Homes our Region Needs, Working Together to Truly Succeed

We said last year that tackling our housing shortage will require smart solutions, community and business investment, creative and flexible zoning and, most of all, community involvement. While there’s still a long way to go, we are happy to report that we see progress on a number of fronts:…”   Read more

Note: This Op-Ed was created in mid-March by the Corporate Council to highlight the housing progress we are making together. We elected not to publish it at that time so that attention could remain appropriately focused on COVID-19 pandemic response.

Spring 2020 Business Leaders Housing Breakfast

Breakfast on Hold!

This popular event is a forum to exchange inspiring ideas, learn about solutions and opportunities for action, and obtain an accurate picture of our regional housing market.

As the COVID19 response rapidly changes our economic environment, we can expect some new obstacles and some new opportunities in our regional challenge of housing availability and affordability. Due to the current volatility and uncertainty, we are postponing the event until we can present meaningful and accurate information about market trends and emerging opportunities.

We’ll be reaching out with an invitation to a webinar (or hopefully a gathering) and look forward to seeing you all then!

Past Events

Fall 2019 Business Leaders Housing Breakfast

Photo by Allison Rogers Furbish

November 1, 2019

7:30 – 9:00 AM

at the Fireside Inn and Suites, Lebanon, NH.

Please give FEEDBACK here.


Links to Presentations:


Housing Demand and Employer Response

Measuring our Progress – Counting New Homes

Regional Implications of Housing – Keys to the Valley

Real Estate Market Update & Resources

Footage from this event will be part of the NH PBS documentary Communities and Consequences II: Rebalancing New Hampshire’s Human Ecology.

The breakfast was co-hosted by Vital Communities and Twin Pines Housing. A very special thank you to Bar Harbor Bank and Trust and the Vermont Housing Finance Agency for sponsoring this important event!

Spring 2019 Business Leaders Housing Breakfast

Photo by Rob Strong

The Spring 2019 Business Leaders Housing Breakfast was focused on Employer and Community Housing Initiatives that we can consider for our communities.

The Healthy Homes Initiative was presented by Kevin Dailey, Chief Human Resource Officer and Vice President of Administration at Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC).

Bennington Healthy Homes Presentation Spring 2019

Jill Davies from the Woodstock Community Trust presented the Woodstock Housing Initiative.

Woodstock Housing Initiative Presentation

The Upper Valley home purchase and rental markets from Buff McLaughry of Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty and Lynne LaBombard of LaBombard Peterson Real Estate LLC.

Real Estate Update Presentation

The breakfast was co-hosted by Vital Communities and Twin Pines Housing. A very special thank you to Mascoma Bank for sponsoring this important event!

Building a Strong Town: Chuck Marohn Talk in Claremont


Advice from Strong Towns’ President and Founder, Chuck Marohn:

Lower the bar of entry and allow the next increment by right.

How can this be applied to our housing shortage? Build smaller homes. And then allow homeowners – by right – to grow their home as their family (and wealth) grows. Imagine a young couple buys a small starter home. They have a child or two and need more space, so they build an addition, or an aging parent needs to move in, so they build an accessory dwelling unit.

Allow density to be gradually “leveled up” by right and a single-family home becomes a duplex, a duplex becomes a triplex, and so on.

I was reminded during Chuck’s presentation of a podcast by 99 Invisible, “Half a House”. The half house concept was in response to a natural disaster, but the concept is the same. The houses were simple, two-story homes, each with a wall running down the middle, splitting the house in two. One side of the house is ready to be moved into. The other side is just a frame around empty space, waiting to be built out by the occupant.

It was a way to provide an opportunity for homeownership to people who couldn’t afford a home while leaving room to grow.

This event was generously sponsored by New Hampshire Housing, and co-hosted by the City of Claremont, Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission, and Vital Communities.

Community Conversation on Housing in Lebanon

Monday, November 5, 2018

Upper Valley Senior Center
10 Campbell St
Lebanon, NH

More than 70 participants developed action ideas  to create the types of homes we need in Lebanon to
have a thriving community for all who live or
work here.

Read the action ideas here: Summary of Findings – Lebanon Housing Conversation Nov 5 2018

Supporting information and news coverage:

Valley News – Talk Seeks Solution to Lebanon’s Housing Woes – 06 Nov 2018

Lebanon Housing Discussion Guide

Lebanon City Plan Housing Chapter 7

Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission Housing Report Executive Summary 2012

Upper Valley On-The-Map census data, Lebanon starts page 5

A community conversation hosted by
the City of Lebanon, the Greater Lebanon Chamber of Commerce, Vital Communities, and the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission
Supported by New Hampshire Listens

Fall 2018 Business Leaders Housing Breakfast

Photo by Molly Drummond

The semi-annual Upper Valley Business Leaders Housing Breakfast brings leaders together to better understand the housing market in the region and the role of workforce housing in vibrant local economies and communities.

Get the presentations from the October 2018 breakfast:

Both Sides of the Line: Housing Policy, Economics, Justice, and regionalism in the Upper Valley, Dartmouth College geographer Garrett Dash Nelson

Real Estate Market Update, Buff McLaughry of Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty and Lynne LaBombard of Housing Solutions Real Estate

Vital Communities encourages attendees to participate in a local planning meeting in the next 3 months.

This event is hosted by Vital Communities and Twin Pines Housing and generously sponsored by Bar Harbor Bank & Trust and Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

Can Accessory Dwelling Units Help Meet Our Region’s Housing Needs?

 ADU expert Kol Peterson presented the opportunities and challenges of Accessory Dwelling Units on Thursday, October 4, at the Kilton Library in West Lebanon

Video of the event is available here, at the Facebook page of Bob Farnham.

Kol Peterson’s slides are available here.


An accessory dwelling unit is a simple and old idea: having a second small dwelling right on the same grounds as (or attached to) your regular single-family house. An ADU can provide an affordable place for you or others to live, can be designed for your needs, and can provide rental income.

You can see many examples and learn more about ADUs at, including building costs, an explanation of construction contracts, sample site plans and floor plans, and a look at appraisal considerations.

Kol Peterson’s book is available at Backdoor Revolution: The Definitive Guide to ADU Development.

This event was generously sponsored by AARP and  New Hampshire Housing, who has published a helpful Homeowner’s Guide to Accessory Dwelling Units to help you think through questions about ADU construction and ownership.

About 50 community members came together at our May 31 conversation on Housing and the Future of Claremont to discuss how we are affected by housing options and conditions in Claremont, then to consider topics to focus on and create recommendations for action. We were successful! Find out more in this brief but detailed Summary of Findings, prepared by NH Listens.
The group collectively identified four key topics for action:
  • Housing quality and types
  • Planning and growth management
  • Zoning and code enforcement
  • Community pride and reputation

Recommendations developed in small groups during the conversation are detailed in the summary document.

What Comes Next?

The City of Claremont has obtained a New Hampshire Municipal Technical Assistance Grant to support many actions identified in three of the four topics: housing quality/types, planning and growth management, and zoning and code enforcement. The City has this established this project as a priority over the next 10 months.

Healthy Vibrant Claremont is taking the lead on efforts to enhance community pride and reputation. Healthy Vibrant Claremont is also stewarding a community-based lead abatement effort.
Current Opportunities to Get Involved
  • Share this news! Please pass this email and information along to others.
  • Claremont Housing Initiative Steering Committee. The Planning Board will be forming a Steering Committee to shepherd the project from public outreach to final proposed changes to City Code. Claremont residents who want to participate in this important project should email or call City Planner Mike McCrory (, 603.504.0347) to get involved.
  • Healthy Vibrant Claremont. To get involved with Healthy Vibrant Claremont’s work on community pride and reputation, call or email David Putnam (, 603.504.8679).
  • Habitat for Humanity is creating a Claremont chapter. People who are interested in providing leadership for this good work for their community and their fellow citizens are encouraged to contact project manager Don Derrick (, 603.277.9135) and find more details online.
  • Lead Paint Challenge. Habitat for Humanity is putting together a team that would become certified, licensed, and capable of dealing with the issues of lead paint in older dwellings. If you’re interested in helping with the project, consider joining the now-forming steering committee. Contact Don Derrick (, 603.277.9135) to join.
Finally, a big THANK YOU to all of the engaged citizens who attended, from the hosts of the evening’s conversation: New Hampshire Listens, the City of Claremont, the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce, Healthy Vibrant Claremont, the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission, and Vital Communities. We are tackling a tough issue together, and we can’t do it without you!

Get the Presentations from the Spring 2018 Business Leaders Housing Breakfast:
Residential Construction in the Valley: Market Analysis and Ongoing Projects
Real Estate Market Update Spring 2018

Each spring and fall, business and community leaders from throughout the greater Upper Valley region convene for semi-annual Business Leaders Housing Breakfasts. The event, hosted by the regional nonprofit organizations Vital Communities and Twin Pines Housing, brings leaders together to better understand the housing market in the region and the role of workforce housing in vibrant local economies and communities.

Upcoming Events

Friday, May 11, 7:30 – 9:00 a.m.

Each spring and fall, business and community leaders from throughout the greater Upper Valley region convene for semi-annual Business Leaders Housing Breakfasts. The event, hosted by the regional nonprofit organizations Vital Communities and Twin Pines Housing, brings leaders together to better understand the housing market in the region and the role of workforce housing in vibrant local economies and communities.

5/31 Event)

Friday, May 11, 7:30 – 9:00 a.m.


Receiving Mascoma Bank Award

UVHC received a 2015 Leadership Award from the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce. Left to right: UVHC former Executive Director Anne Duncan Cooley, George Reagan of the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, and Corb Moister of UVHC.

In November 2001, more than 200 business, municipal, and civic leaders attended a Workforce Housing Summit which explored the scarcity of available housing for families earning less than $75,000 per year. An Upper Valley Housing Needs Analysis indicated that if nothing changed, the 3,000-unit housing shortage for this group would triple by the end of the decade. With this problem in mind, a variety of local employers, faith community members, and nonprofit organizations formed the Upper Valley Housing Coalition (UVHC) to advocate for systemic change and create an environment favorable to the development of “workforce housing” near jobs.

UVHC attracted more than 200 volunteers from every sector of the region and formally incorporated as a New Hampshire nonprofit organization in 2003. From 2003 through 2009 UVHC was housed at Vital Communities, which also served as a fiscal sponsor. Anne Duncan Cooley joined the organization as its second Executive Director in May 2004. In August 2010 UVHC received its exemption from income tax under section 501c3. In 2015, UVHC received a Leadership Award from the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce.

For nearly 17 years, UVHC pursued its vision: that Upper Valley residents will be able to live in the communities in which they work. However, in early 2018, the UVHC Board of Directors voted to dissolve the organization’s operations. Vital Communities is now spearheading some aspects of the work formerly coordinated by UVHC.

What's Happening at Vital Communities

Vital Communities Staff