Messaging and Myths
How is it that housing is frequently cited as the most important issue facing New Hampshire families, but solutions are routinely voted down? It often comes back to the language that we use when talking about housing and the education necessary to correct the many myths and misperceptions around housing. Below you will find great resources on how to talk about housing and a section dedicated to the pervasive myth about housing, taxes, and our schools.
Additional Messaging Resources
It doesn't matter where you live or what the proposed housing change is, opponents almost always cite the same arguments over and over again, but in most cases they are myths! Below you'll find research and evidence-based reports that debunk some of the most common claims.
Housing, Taxes, and Our Schools
Opponents of new housing often cite the impact it will have on our schools and, given that local property taxes fund the majority of our school budgets, raise taxes. The argument centers on the per pupil spending, which varies between community, but is typically in the range of $15,000 to $20,000 per student. However, there are a few key points those making this argument are missing:
The cost of an additional student is not the same as the cost of the average student. The average student cost factors in all the fixed costs including building maintenance, heating, cooling, and electric costs, administrative costs, transportation costs, etc. However, each additional student doesn't increase the facility costs, doesn't require significantly more staff, and doesn't require a new building.
Most New Hampshire school districts are facing declining student enrollment. This demographic reality works hand-in-hand with the point above. Most school districts have significantly more capacity than they currently have enrolled students. Adding students will ensure that the school buildings that our tax dollars paid for don't go underutilized.
Single-family homes produce more students per unit than multifamily homes. The student myth is raised when discussing multi-family housing, but frequently not raised when single-family developments are proposed. However, single-family homes produce significantly more students per home than multi-family.
Finally, young families are good for our communities. The research demonstrates that new housing will not lead to skyrocketing property taxes, but, curiously, this entire debate is framed as young families being a bad thing for our communities. Young families add vibrancy to the community, they shop at local businesses, participate in community activities, and are members of our workforce. Housing advocates should not buy into the premise that young families are a problem.
Check out these resources below:
Will More Kids in Town Raise the Local Tax Rate?
Housing and School Enrollment in New Hampshire: A Decade of Dramatic Change
Housing and School Enrollment: An Expanded View