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.

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!

In The News

New national poll shows support for solutions to the affordable housing crisis

Posted: 05 Apr 2019 08:05 AM PDT

Last month, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC)’s national campaign, Opportunity Starts at Home, released the results of a nationwide public opinion poll about the affordable housing crisis. The poll is the first in several years to gauge the public’s opinion on these issues – and the results underscore the importance of the work that VAHC, its members, and members of NLIHC do. Below are some of the key findings of the poll, from the fact sheet:

  • 91% of people say stable affordable housing is very important or one of the most important things that affect people’s security and well-being in the United States.
  • 76% believe that, compared with previous generations, it is harder today for people to find stable housing they can afford. The results from people living in rural areas and people living in the Northeast are slightly higher, both polling in at 78%.
  • 73% say housing affordability is a problem in the area where they live, with 60% saying it is a serious problem – up 21 points from 2016. This number is 64% among respondents living in the Northeast.
  • 91% say it is important for communities to have affordable, quality rental housing.
  • 61% report that they have had to make at least one sacrifice in the past three years because they were struggling to pay for housing.
  • 85% agree that ensuring that everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to live should be a “top national priority.” 90% of respondents living in the Northeast feel the same.
  • 83% agree that elected officials are not paying enough attention to the cost of housing and the need for more affordable housing.

Overall, the poll shows overwhelming support for innovative policy solutions aimed at fixing the affordable housing crisis. At the state level, legislators in Vermont have been hard at work coming up with ways to address the issue – and beyond that, our members continue to be hard at work on issues surrounding affordable housing. At the national level, there have been some innovative proposals that are gaining steam as more and more presidential candidates talk about housing on the campaign trail.

One thing is clear from the poll – we can’t have healthy, thriving communities without addressing the housing crisis.

More reading:

The post New national poll shows support for solutions to the affordable housing crisis appeared first on Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.


This posting includes an audio/video/photo media file: Download Now


“Without further investment, we will continue to undermine the safety and wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens, and as the governor has indicated, the wellbeing of our employer community and their workforce.” – Sara KobylenskiVTDigger
READ the commentary on meeting Vermont’s housing needs:

The Housing Shortage Affects All of Us

It is no secret that there is a shortage of homes to buy or rent in the Upper Valley. That shortage affects all of us. Home ownership costs and rents are high. Vacancies are low. People have difficulty finding places to live near their jobs and services. Employers have hundreds of unfilled job openings for medical care, restaurant service, manufacturing, fuel delivery, education,home repair and other critical services because there just aren’t enough places to live.

Valley News – Column_ The Housing Shortage Affects All of Us 2019.01.27

Past Events

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