Durham, New Hampshire-based Harmony Homes Assisted Living is developing affordable and workforce housing on its campus to house its employees. The new development will feature 44 cottage-style affordable housing units that will be open to the public, but staffers who work at the nearby assisted living and memory care community will receive priority to live there. The tiny homes, with a footprint of 380 square feet and a 160 square foot loft, will provide a total of 540 square feet of living space. Each cottage will feature a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living area on the ground floor, with the loft serving as an additional bedroom.
Harmony’s $5.2 million development is the first step in creating a campus that has assisted living and memory care on one side and affordable housing on the other. The company is hoping to make Harmony more competitive in the labor market by adding housing, which will help to unfreeze the senior living development pipeline in New Hampshire. John Randolph, Harmony’s Owner and CEO, expects that about 12 to 15 of the cottages will be occupied by Harmony workers. He hopes that adding housing will also help to address the affordable housing crisis in the region.
The employees who live in the new cottages will have to pay 30% of their monthly pay in rent, while people in need of affordable housing can also live there, with monthly rates starting at around $600. The Randolphs are advocating for more workforce and affordable housing in the state of New Hampshire as the market demographics for senior living put more pressure on developers. Harmony plans to open 51 affordable workforce units this year, but it plans to more than double that output every year soon in the future. John Randolph believes that to solve southern New Hampshire’s affordable housing problem, it will take developing thousands of additional units.
Harmony is not the only senior living operator eyeing workforce housing as a way to get over a staffing crunch. Other operators, including The Springs Living, have also forged ahead with their own versions of workforce housing developments. With the senior living development market frozen, Harmony plans to move forward with workforce housing developments. The operating margin for assisted living and memory care provides better cash flow, so the profitability of the affordable housing/workforce housing developments lies in holding real estate as it appreciates over time. Harmony has the land and bandwidth to build two additional skilled nursing facilities with about 50 to 60 beds each, but John Randolph said they are not allowed to build in the state of New Hampshire right now because of the staff shortage.
The Randolphs have been making the rounds at conferences and speaking events advocating for more workforce and affordable housing in the state of New Hampshire. Other communities, not only in New Hampshire but in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and as far as Georgia, have reached out to them to see how their workforce housing initiative is working. The Randolphs are guiding their peers by explaining how they zoned the developments for workforce housing. While the Randolphs are keeping their focus on New Hampshire, and specifically the southern part of the state, they believe they could expand to other areas in the future.