JACKSON — Accessory dwelling units and home sharing were discussed at a forum that took place Monday night at the Whitney Community Center.
About 25 people attended the session, which was hosted by the MWV Housing Coalition and Jackson Housing Opportunities Matter, a 501(c)(3) non-profit established to increase housing diversity.
MWV Housing Coalition Executive Director Victoria Laracy introduced the speakers, which included Dr. Marianne Jackson, of Madison, who explained the new HomeShare program recently launched by the Gibson Center for Senior Services in North Conway; George Reagan, administrator of the N.H. Housing Finance Authority, who discussed design ideas for ADUs, including ways homeowners can redesign their homes to create a small apartments; and Scott Badger, president of Jackson Housing Opportunities Matter.
Badger said after the forum: “We wanted to present a couple of potential ways to create or find housing; there isn’t going to be a silver bullet to solve it all, but there are some options.
“This is all important for a town like Jackson to maintain a vibrant and robust community,” he said.
“Affordable housing is critical throughout the valley for the same reason to provide places for workers of local businesses to live. You don’t have economic development if you don’t have available housing,” said Badger, co-owner of Lupine Pets of East Conway.
He said that Jackson voters at annual town meeting approved two zoning amendments, one to allow for increased cluster development by lowering the amount required for common land and another to reduce the amount of frontage required for a subdivision.
Both Reagan and Jackson spoke of housing alternatives that could increase Jackson’s housing stock by using existing housing.
New Hampshire passed a law in 2017 that said a town can’t require increased lot size or septic capacity when an ADU is attached to an existing residence.
Jackson’s ADU ordinance under Section 9 of the zoning ordinance says that a single-family residence constituting a principal dwelling unit may also include an accessory apartment, as an Accessory Use, either integral, attached or detached, provided that it doesn’t exceed 1,000 square feet of enclosed space and is bigger than 350 square feet of enclosed space.
In addition, it says ADUs shall not have more than one occupant per 250 square feet of space; that there is adequate off-street parking; and the property shall have one or more state-approved septic designs sufficient to serve both the principal dwelling unit and the ADU.
In his presentation, Reagan said the benefits of ADUs is they increase a community’s housing supply without further land development; facilitate efficient use of existing housing stock and infrastructure; provide an affordable housing option for many low-and moderate-income residents; improve homeowner cash flow; and enable elderly or disabled people to live close to family members and may delay transition to assisted living centers
His talk also outlined landlord and tenant rights; leases and security deposits; and taking into consideration possible property value increases.
“What I want to leave you with is this is not a light consideration,” said Reagan, offering his services should anyone have more questions.
Jackson reviewed how the Gibson Center launched its new HomeShare program last month.
“What HomeShare does is to create housing that maximizes relationships,” said Jackson. “You don’t have to spend a lot of time talking about zoning and financing, because you’re zoned to the house you have. It’s already there. It’s finding the people who can live with you and sharing that space.”
The service matches homeowners who have extra bedrooms with people who are looking for shared housing options.
She said it is modeled after a HomeShare Vermont service that has been operational for over 35 years.
Jackson said fully vetted renters pay rent and often provide bartered services as well as companionship and neighborhood security.
“Carter Notch Road is safer if, in addition to the vacation homes and second homes, there are people who live there all the time,” said Jackson. “You see each other, and you wave.”
The center charges a matching fee to support the program.
The goal is to allow homeowners to remain in their homes while also getting revenue, with the rent determined by the landowner and the tenant.
Agreements are drawn up between all parties concerning expectations for the arrangement, whether that be helping with household chores, guests and other issues that might arise.
“You have people who are housemates, who help each other,” Jackson said.
She described how the process works. First, interested parties contact HomeShare MWV-Gibson at email@example.com to complete an application and interview. This leads to a complete background check and four references for all parties.
The interview details lifestyle preferences and helps set appropriate expectations that help identify the best matches. This may be based on location, lifestyle, bartered services or cost.
Jackson said it may take several weeks for a match to be made so she stressed it is important to recognize this is not emergency housing nor is it short term housing.
Information is also provided regarding New Hampshire tenant/landlord law and sample leases are available. The first month’s rent is paid to MWV-Gibson to cover the costs of the background checks and the service.
Jackson said appointments to complete applications and interviews can be made by calling the Gibson Center for Senior Services at (603) 356-3231.
Video of the forum is available at jackson-nh.org, according to Jackson Housing Opportunities board member Betsey Harding.
For information about Jackson Housing Opportunity Matters, contact Badger at firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 986-7271 or call Harding at (603) 264-9068.