Annual Celebration Event
Coalition Celebrates a Year of Success, Growth
and Transition at Annual Event
The Coalition hosted their Annual Celebration on Thursday, September 26 at the Portsmouth Brewery in downtown Portsmouth. The event highlighted our accomplishments, presented Leadership in Housing awards and recognized key supporters.
Cliff Sinnott, WHC Board of Directors President, and Ashlee Iber, WHC Executive Director, presented a review of the last year’s achievements and examined plans for the future. They shared highlights of the Workforce Housing Design Charrettes done in Dover and Portsmouth as well as the results of an employer survey the WHC conducted in early 2013. The Employer Survey illustrated the impact that the availability or unavailability of workforce housing is having on local employers’ ability to attract and retain the qualified talent that their businesses need to operate and grow.
Iber gave a preview of some the Coalition’s future projects including completing video training modules of a mock planning board meeting and a Business Leaders Breakfast. The WHC has opened its search for a new site in the Seacoast to consider for future Workforce Housing Design Charrettes.
Two guest speakers, George Reagan from the NH Housing Finance Authority, and Eric Chinburg from Chinburg Properties spoke about workforce housing. Reagan enforced the continued need for workforce housing in the Seacoast and how workforce-housing coalitions are making a difference. Chinburg shared his experiences in developing workforce housing.
The Leadership in Housing awards presentation recognized the achievements of local businesses and individuals for their efforts to improve the availability of housing for area workers. The Employer Leadership Award was received by Dawn Barker, VP of Human Resources on behalf of RiverWoods, a non-profit retirement community in Exeter, NH. The Municipal Leadership Award was accepted by Rick Jones, Community Development Coordinator, on the behalf of the City of Dover.
Lisa Henderson, WHC’s talented and creative former Executive Director, was this year’s recipient of the Visionary Award. After serving as Executive Director for several years, Lisa accepted an important position of Homeownership Director with The Housing Partnership in early 2013.
In the words of Stephanye Schulyer, former WHC Board member, who presented the award toLisa, “Mere mortals would wither at the challenge (of promoting workforce housing in the Seacoast). But not Lisa Henderson….One person can make a difference. Lisa has, and the Seacoast is a better place to live and work because of Lisa Henderson.”
The WHC released its Annual Report at the event, as well as copies of the organization’s brand new Housing Resource Guide. The Housing Resource Guide is a twenty-eight-page booklet intended to provide existing and would-be residents of the region with information and resources to help find housing in the Great Seacoast area.
Charrette Reveals Housing Plans for Wells
Coalition’s Annual Workshop Makes Major Strides in Planning
The WHC hosted a 2-day design Charrette at the Wells Activity Center on October 17 and 18 to envision workforce housing opportunities in Wells Maine. Community members, property owners, and an all-volunteer design team comprised of housing developers, architects, engineers, planners, finance and real estate professionals worked together to create concept designs for workforce housing development at the Wells Corner and the Transportation Center areas.
On day one of the Charrette, two teams assessed each of the focus sites to determine what opportunities may be available for residential or mixed-use housing. Several property owners attended Thursday’s discussion and public listening session, and returned for the work session the following morning. Volunteer team members willingly devoted their time and energy to create two plans for the Wells Corner site and one plan for the Transportation Center. Designs were revealed in a public presentation on the afternoon of October 18.
“We tried to incorporate not just workforce housing, but other things that the community wanted,” explained Rip Patten, Vice President and Senior Environmental Engineer at Credere Associates. In addition to multi-use housing, the concepts for the Wells Corner location envisioned the area becoming a hub for the existing academic, medical, and shopping opportunities in the surrounding area.
The Transportation Center site concept included not only long-term, mixed-use, and retail uses in the design, but also a hardware store, a small grocery store, dry cleaning, and other businesses necessary in daily life.
The availability of housing that is affordable to working families is critical to the economic vitality of our region and the community. A study conducted by the Maine Housing, 2012 Housing Facts for York County, revealed that in Wells, the median price for a home in 2012 was $220,500, which could only be afforded with an annual income of $58,861. 10,657 households in York County are unable to afford the average two-bedroom rent of $886 per month with utilities, as it would require a $35,436 yearly income, figures also determined by the Maine Housing study.
Increasing the availability of housing that is affordable to empty-nesters, young professionals, and working families is the goal of the WHC for the betterment of the community.
The preparation behind the Charrette relied on a committee of several essential volunteers. Leading the WHC’s Charrette Committee are Co-Chairs, Kristen Grant of the University of Maine Sea Grant and Rebecca Perkins, an attorney at Orr & Reno. The Team Leaders for the two planning groups, Tom Emerson of Studio B-E Design and Tom House of THA Architects, helped to assure that the event ran smoothly and insured efficient communication between the teams of professionals.
Thank you to the Wells Board of Selectmen for their support, as well as the Town of Wells Town Manager, Jonathan Carter, for his active participation in the Charrette planning over the past several months.
We extend sincere appreciation to our Community Builders and event sponsors. Thank you for financial support and contributions towards building a brighter community.
Thank you to our event co-host, the Town of Wells, ME, and our Charrette sponsors!
Help for Housing Hunters
Housing Resource Guide
The search for suitable, affordable housing close to work and family is never easy. We have compiled the best resources available in order to provide useful information to prospective renters as well as homebuyers.
Information for renters includes advice on how to access housing assistance programs, contact information for assisted housing providers and large private owners or management firms, and tips for positive landlord-tenant relations, and more.
Information for homebuyers includes information on the home buying process, a list of homebuyer counseling providers, where to access on down payment assistance programs, first-time homebuyer resources and other homebuyer programs.
The Guide is available in print, online and through employers who are WHC members. To learn more about the Guide and WHC membership opportunities, contact Ashlee Iber by email email@example.com or by phone (603) 205-0539.