By some estimates, one in three NH households will be occupied by seniors by the year 2025.
While most seniors wish to age in place, there are several complicating factors including a lack of affordable and diverse housing to accommodate older adults and individuals with a disability. Zoning plays a key role in creating diverse housing and age-friendly communities by designating where housing, schools, businesses, parks, and other community buildings can exist.
Where we live influences our health. Zoning policies contribute to creating age-friendly communities by providing access to nutritious food, good air quality, or access to diverse housing. Zoning can also bar age-friendly communities by restricting building types and home modifications. Further, because zoning is managed on a local level, people’s health varies across communities in the Granite State.
In 2016, the NH Alliance for Healthy Aging convened the Zoning Workgroup which has focused on two broad strategies:
Strategy 1: Increase housing diversity in New Hampshire.
In collaboration with Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, the workgroup created and distributed a survey to builders and developers in better understanding that landscape of current housing stock, types of housing that should be built, and the barriers to building more diverse housing in New Hampshire.
Strategy 2: Create model ordinance for age-friendly communities.
Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission and the town of Chester drafted NH’s first age-friendly zoning ordinance, passed in 2019. The workgroup provided input on this ordinance and supports expansion and development of age-friendly ordinances across the state.