New Affordable Workforce Housing
Coming to Downtown Portsmouth
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.
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.
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. This vitality is driven, in part, by our valued public service employees, including first responders, teachers, coaches, health care professionals, as well as those who are employed in diverse economy including the hospitality industry and world-class creative economy where artists, craftspeople, musicians, performers, historic preservationists and others.
The need for this project is well-documented. The city’s 2025 Master Plan, the Portsmouth Business Expansion and Retention Report, Portsmouth Listens, and the Mayor’s Housing Committee all identify the need for housing that is affordable to the city’s workforce. If the city fails to address its shortage of affordable housing it risks losing the social and economic vitality it treasures – vitality driven, in part, by those who are employed in its world-class creative economy and our valued public service employees.
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.
PHA’s Court Street Workforce Housing Project is a historic opportunity to meet this urgent need in the heart of downtown Portsmouth. This project will convert land already owned by the PHA and what is now primarily a surface parking lot and redevelop it into 64 one- and two-bedroom units. All of these units will be financially accessible to members of the workforce making at or below 80% of Area Median Income (AMI), and of those, three-quarters of the units will be affordable to residents making under 60% AMI.
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.
This project is the culmination of years of planning, both on the part of the community and the PHA. Funding will come from Low Income Housing Tax Credits, New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority (NHHFA) grants and loans, and an equity investment on the part of the PHA. The State of New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority (CDFA) tax credits are also an important part of the project’s financing structure
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