Housing Opportunity Zones

Issues Addressed:
Affordable Housing Infrastructure Redevelopment

What is it?

A Housing Opportunity Zone is an area within a community where qualifying mixed-income developments can receive property tax relief for up to 10 years. Under the program, a community defines an area of their town or city as a “Housing Opportunity Zone,” and new housing developments there can apply to the municipality for a delay on increased property taxes resulting from that new development.  For a development in a Housing Opportunity Zone to qualify, it must provide at least 30% of its homes to low-income households or meet another mix of incomes defined under state law. The program does not reduce that development’s property taxes overall, nor does it permanently decrease taxes owed. The Housing Opportunity Zone, which became law in 2022, is an iteration of the older Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive (Chapter 79-E).

How can it help?

Housing Opportunity Zones can…

  • Encourage new housing development at targeted locations.
  • Provide new housing for households at lower income levels, who are otherwise unserved by new development.
  • Spur economic development in targeted areas.
  • Create incentives for new housing with no up-front cost to the municipality or other government bodies, while ensuring greater municipal revenues after the tax relief’s expiration.

Getting Started

  1. Recognize and promote Housing Opportunity Zones’ impact on common master plan goals, such as increased housing options, increased affordability, economic development in downtowns and village centers, open space preservation, and more.
  2. If undertaking a master plan, include adoption of a Housing Opportunity Zone as a recommendation.
  3. Conduct a public engagement process to determine what areas of your community should be considered a Housing Opportunity Zone. A Housing Opportunity Zone does not need to be a “downtown” or “village” area, like with the Community Revitalization Tax Relief Incentive, but it can be.
  4. Draft legislation to adopt the Housing Opportunity Zone. The legislation should define the boundaries of the zone.
  5. Adopt that legislation via the relevant public body (Town Meeting, Town Council, City Council, etc.). Adoption follows the provisions of RSA 79-E:3.
  6. Upon adoption, develop application materials and a process for property owners to apply for the Housing Opportunity Zone program.
  7. Promote the Housing Opportunity Zone to property owners within the zone, as well as property developers who are locally active. Send letters to these stakeholders, post the process and application materials to your community’s website, etc.


  • The key trade-off for this program is new (affordable) housing versus increased local tax revenue. The tax relief is only relevant if the real estate market is otherwise unable to develop new mixed-income housing in these areas of your community, and if the tax relief can cover the increased costs of constructing the affordable housing units. 
  • Ideally, the need for relief would be backed by history of the sites in the target area and up-to-date real estate financial analysis. 
  • In some limited “hot” real estate markets, developers may be able to provide mixed-income housing without tax relief. Your community could also consider other kinds of incentives, such as density bonuses or dimensional relief for provision of affordable housing units.
  • The Housing Opportunity Zone is another tool to help provide all-affordable housing developments, and it will have synergy with other incentives and programs like the state Affordable Housing Fund and the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).
  • Your community will need to have capacity to enforce the regulations, ensuring the units of a qualifying structure are rented and sold to income-eligible residents.
  • Under the Housing Opportunity Zone law, qualifying income mixes include 30% or more units reserved for households making 80% or less of the area median income, or under a unit mix defined in RSA 204-C:57, IV. The mixes from that law range from at least 50% of the units being affordable to persons of very low, low, or moderate income to at least 20% of the units being affordable to persons of very low income.
  • A qualifying structure is eligible for tax assessment relief for a period of up to 10 years, beginning upon issuance of the certification of occupancy.