The New Hampshire Housing Toolbox is a project that compiles and describes many of the tools available to New Hampshire cities and towns to produce more housing, especially more housing that is aligned with community needs. Government officials and local housing advocates can use this toolbox to learn what tools might be right for their community, quickly understand how the tools can be used, and know where to look for detailed information and precedents. Some of these tools are broad approaches to development that municipalities can think about, while others are specific regulations or programs that municipalities can implement. 

Busy planners and advocates looking to understand their community’s housing options are the target audience of this toolbox. It is meant for all those involved in planning, zoning, and housing development at the local level, particularly local government staff, local government officials (such as Select Board, Planning Board, or Zoning Board of Adjustment members), and housing advocates working in and around local government. We hope that this toolbox can serve as the first step to action, and that the tools inside can be implemented in the near term and with most of the effort expended at the local government level. This toolbox is primarily focused on local regulatory frameworks. Of course, beyond the tools in this toolbox, there are other housing strategies that private companies, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood groups, and others can use to help solve the housing crisis. All of these tools are ultimately necessary, but we wanted to provide a tailored resource for local government.

This project was part of the New Hampshire Regional Planning Commissions’ Regional Housing Needs Assessment (https://www.nharpc.org/rhna/). It was coordinated by the New Hampshire Office of Planning and Development and executed with assistance from Outwith Studio. The project was funded through the American Rescue Plan State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund Grant.

Though the toolbox addresses legal and regulatory issues and processes, it should not be taken as legal advice. The purpose of the toolbox is to provide an overview of the tools and point local officials and advocates in the right direction. Implementing these tools or understanding how they interact with state and local law will require further guidance and legal counsel.

How to use this toolbox

Start by assessing what issues are in your community from the list below. Then find tools in the matrix below that can be used to address those issues. Tools are ordered alphabetically in this document. Each tool contains the following sections, which you can use to better understand your options.

Use this toolbox as a starting point. Most of these tools can be implemented with creativity, so be sure to research each tool thoroughly and understand what you can (and cannot) do with the strategies here.

Themes these tools address

In order to help organize these tools, this document notes important themes that each tool addresses. There are seven broad themes addressed in this toolbox