The Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast (WHC) is an education and outreach initiative which...Hosts public forums and trainings to highlight solutions to the region’s housing challenges; Provides municipalities with research and technical assistance to help improve local housing policies; Provides developers with information and data to advance workforce housing projects.
Through a united coalition of business, municipal and community leaders, our mission is to be a catalyst for the development of a range of housing options for the diverse workforce in the Greater Seacoast region of New Hampshire and Maine. Territory Map
We envision an adequate supply of affordable, desirable housing throughout the Greater Seacoast region that provides opportunities for the workforce to put down roots, and creates a more diverse community that benefits us all.
The Greater Seacoast is one of the least affordable regions in the country, producing harmful economic, social and environmental impacts. Many cannot afford to live in the communities in which they work. This increases commuting distances, which harms the environment and limits time for civic engagement and recreation. Those who cannot afford to live in the area often move away, leaving employers who are unable to hire and retain the workers they need to sustain and grow their businesses.
Who needs workforce housing? Those who take care of our children, our seniors and our communities. For example, teachers, health care workers, artists, municipal employees and the other workers who provide essential services - retail, service, manufacturing, and hospitality workers. Workforce housing includes single-family homes, condominiums and apartments.
In 2000, Anne Rugg believed it was time to change the debate. As founding executive director of The Housing Partnership, a nonprofit developer of affordable rental housing based in Portsmouth, NH, Anne scoured the region for good development opportunities. However, too often these projects stalled. Municipalities lacked supportive state or local policies. Abutters seized on false information to mount NIMBY (Not in My Back Yard) campaigns. At the same time, the region’s economy was taking off. There was a labor shortage, and in part, employers attributed this to rising housing costs. It was getting much harder to recruit and retain quality employees.
The signs were clear: job growth was outpacing housing growth. Anne and others saw that this was an economic issue, not just a social issue. Without more reasonably priced housing for workers, the Seacoast could kill the goose that laid the golden egg.
On March 28, 2001, the Greater Seacoast Workforce Housing/Labor Shortage Summit was held at the Sheraton Harborside Hotel in Portsmouth. Organizers included The Housing Partnership, the New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development, the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center, the City of Portsmouth and the Seacoast Chambers of Commerce. Keynote speaker Carl Guardino, president and chief executive officer of the Silicon Valley (CA) Manufacturing Group, outlined his group’s success at mobilizing the business community to fund housing for high-tech workers. The event marked the launch of the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast (WHC).
Jameson French, President of Northland Forest Products, Inc. in Kingston, NH, took the helm as chair of the new organization. Membership grew to over 100 people and included both public and private sector leaders. Business leaders, bankers, municipal officials, housing industry professionals, clergy and nonprofit organizations united to raise awareness of the need for a broader range of housing options for the region’s diverse workforce. Their goal was clear: Address the root causes of the housing shortage by recruiting business advocates, dispelling myths about workforce housing, stimulating regulatory reform, and supporting quality housing developments.
2011 - 2012 WHC Annual Report -
another year of growth and opportunity ...The pages of this booklet are filled with images of our many volunteers helping us achieve our mission... We are indebted to our volunteers and our funders, including our growing list of individual and corporate members. Thank you!... Open .pdf
WHC Strategic Plan - A visual representation of our supporters, activities, key strategies, performance measures and priority outcomes.... Open .pdf