An excellent story by journalist Ian Lenahan of this newspaper recently detailed a exciting project from the owners of Woodbury Cooperativewhich is a resident-owned residential community on Woodbury Avenue.

As explained in the story, the owners of the 10 existing homes in the park, which several years ago became one of several statewide resident-owned co-ops, are adding locations for five homes. additional. The result will be affordable housing that will cost significantly less than so-called “workforce housing” and will provide quality of life and home ownership for new residents.

First, a disclaimer, since this topic is also about where I live. There are three of what have for too long been called ‘caravans’ or ‘mobile home parks’ in Portsmouth. The other two are Hillcrest Estates off Lafayette Road and Oriental Gardens on Woodbury Avenue near the Newington town limit.

With the exception of those who live in Woodbury Cooperative, residents of Hillcrest and Oriental, myself included, do not own the land on which the homes sit. The land is leased to the owners. The owner pays property taxes on the land; homeowners pay taxes on their homes. The houses vary in size, quality, age and cost, but all are priced much lower than “stick-built” houses which have holes in the ground.

I don’t call them “trailers” or “mobile homes” because they certainly aren’t mobile once they’re located (in my case, the tires are completely rotten), and many of us don’t prefer the term “prefabricated houses”. Either term gives a misleading stigma and makes expansion more difficult. They are “houses”. I think most of us living in any part of our city value “location, location, location” more than having an underground basement.

Six years ago, journalist Jeff McMenemy visited my home and wrote these observations: The sweetness of the hearth (seacoastonline.com)

After:Home sweet home: Splaine calls for end to trailer park and mobile home conditions

In the case of the residents of Woodbury Cooperative, several years ago their landlord was on the verge of selling. Residents took the opportunity to work with the NH Community Loan Fund to raise the funds needed to cover the purchase price. Thus, by dint of innovation and creative minds, they became owners who now own their land.

After:Portsmouth has made landlords who have added affordable homes to the neighborhood. Here’s how.

Together, much like those who are part of a condominium or a housing association, each pays fees which include the use of common areas, snow removal and garbage collection. As noted in the story, they also share property taxes and financial management of the cooperative.

Ian Lenahan also reported, “According to the Community Loan Fund, Woodbury Cooperative is one of 143 resident-owned communities in New Hampshire. Across all communities, there are nearly 8,700 affordable housing units.” Incidentally, this fund is available to residents of other parks in case their landlords decide to sell, and has become a way to keep housing affordable across the state, despite the dramatic increase in housing costs. .

Portsmouth should explore ways to expand opportunities for single-family home placement throughout the city and more small residential parks. Although land is scarce and expensive, partnerships with businesses, especially in areas outside of the immediate town center, could be created to enable the placement of houses that can provide housing for employees and residents. This doesn’t have to be a subsidized housing effort, but a partnership with the Portsmouth Housing Authority could be explored. They have creative expertise in making affordable housing a reality.

A Google search online can reveal the high quality and low cost of homes ranging from 400 square foot micro-residentials to over 1,000 square feet, all without having to dig holes in the ground. Thus, with the cooperation of the city, permits could be simplified and the long-term impact on the land may be negligible.

Many people, especially those in our service businesses who, if they’re lucky, can make $20 an hour, and our elders and orphaned parents, can’t afford high rents or mortgages. , and what costs $1,300 a month today could well be double that in three or four years. Exploring what is already working in Portsmouth for hundreds of our residents at Woodbury Cooperative, Hillcrest Estates and Oriental Gardens makes sense.

We can learn from each other and from our fellow citizens. Let’s encourage a conversation.

Quote of the day: “The location, the location, the location.” – a mantra for housing as well as business.

Next time: the case of “Portsmouth, natural state”.

Jim Splaine has held various positions since 1969 as Deputy Mayor of Portsmouth, Police Commissioner and School Board Member, as well as Senator and NH State Representative. He can be contacted at [email protected]