For more than 60 years, the Portsmouth Housing Authority has been developing and managing quality affordable housing to thousands of Portsmouth families, seniors and people with disabilities. As the largest landlord in the City of Portsmouth we own and manage over 600 units of affordable housing that nearly 1,000 Portsmouth residents call home.
Our housing is a critical part of the public infrastructure in the city. Demand for our housing is stronger than ever, both from residents who want to live with us and from all those who recognize that housing diversity is important to the economic vitality and character of our great city.
In recent years, the City has been struggling with ways to incentivize the development of workforce housing while for-profit developers have almost exclusively been building to meet market demands for rental housing and condominiums that serve the most affluent members of our community. The result is that the far too many members of our vital workforce have been priced out of the market.
If we fail to address the shortage of affordable housing in this community, Portsmouth runs the real risk of losing the social and economic vitality that we treasure – vitality that is driven, in part, by those who are employed in our world-class creative economy where artists, craftspeople, musicians, performers, historic preservationists and others can no longer call Portsmouth home. The same holds true for our valued public service employees including first responders, teachers, coaches, health care professionals and employees of the variety of nonprofit organizations located here.
While housing diversity and affordability has long been a part of our civic dialogue, the public demand for more workforce housing has never been as pronounced in Portsmouth as it is right now. This demand is one reason why the Portsmouth Housing Authority included in its 2017-2020 Strategic Plan a primary goal to both grow and preserve the number of affordable rental units in the city. In order to overcome some of the biggest impediments to our goal, the PHA started by studying opportunities for additional development on land that we already own, including an underutilized parking lot on Court Street.
As a location, walkable to thousands of jobs in Portsmouth’s downtown is a perfect spot to realize all of the principles of high quality urban design. The neighborhood context, at the heart of what some call a municipal campus, between the Middle School, District Court, the Central Fire Station and the Feaster Apartments was a perfect opportunity to achieve unit density as a function of affordability.
The PHA is also everything city residents have been asking for in a housing developer: local, not for profit, experienced in bringing tax credits and other public financing tools to the table, and an owner of land that we already own free and clear.
The time is right, the location is choice, and the developer is your neighbor. Please join us in a civic discussion we hope will result in a clear and direct response to the goals we all share for an inclusive, socially and economically diverse community.
As we begin the public process to create this development, we encourage your participation, and for your show of support both in person during City public hearings and in writing for those that can’t attend. Join us in creating something special that is worthy of the City of the Open Door.
Craig W. Welch
Portsmouth Housing Authority & PHA Housing Development LTD.
245 Middle Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801
603-436-4310 Ext 118
Step 1 – Historic District Commission Application