New Walpole affordable housing viewed as model for region

WALPOLE, N.H. (WCAX) The housing crunch in the Connecticut River Valley got a big boost Friday with the grand opening of a new 22-unit affordable housing complex in Walpole.

There is a problem facing residents in Walpole, New Hampshire, that is replicated throughout the state -- a lack of affordable housing.

"There is a real tight housing market in New Hampshire," said Dean Christon with New Hampshire Housing, an group that promotes and helps finance affordable housing projects. He says that tight market can slow economic activity across the state. "We've got a vacancy rate of under one percent in almost the entire state, which is just extraordinary which is well below both national and regional averages."

Governor Chris Sununu Friday helped celebrate what he says is an affordable housing success story -- Abenaki Springs. Phase one and two includes 43 one and two-bedroom units that range in price from $690 a month to a little over $1,000 for those who qualify. And those prices include heat. It's an energy efficient modular design. Phase two went up in just five-and-a-half months.

"As businesses are coming in, this is what everyone is looking for," Sununu said. He says housing is a big concern for business that want to expand and that the Walpole model can represent the housing of the future. "It's affordability, it's quality, efficiency, speed of development. They really broke every record in the book in terms of putting this up with an incredible quality of product."

The state has incentives that promote public-private partnerships for projects like this one. The developer in this case, Avanru Development Group, says federal tax credits helped secure the $9.4 million to make it happen. "It's a new standard, it's 21st century housing and we are hear to meet the demand," said Avanru's Jack Franks.

Seventeen of the 22 new units are already accounted for. Planning for phase three of development is underway.