Development patterns in coastal communities during the housing boom of the 1990’s and early 2000’s often favored construction of residences featuring large homes on large lots. This approach resulted in the availability of housing stock in those coastal communities that was unaffordable to much of the communities’ workforce. In response, the firefighters, police officers, teachers, retail workers and others who make up this vital workforce, have often moved outside their work communities in search of homes they can afford to own or rent.
Disconnecting the local workforce from the community in this way has social, economic, and environmental consequences for these coastal communities. Employees who live at significant distances from their work spend more time commuting and have less time to become active citizens, have less disposable income due to commuting costs, and contribute more environment-damaging auto emissions. To address this issue, coastal communities are exploring strategies to develop a range of housing options that meets the needs of a diverse workforce.
Maine Sea Grant is working with partners to help coastal communities increase awareness of the relationship between housing supply and overall environmental, social, and economic vitality in the communities, and to envision and implement approaches toward developing a diversity of housing.
Workforce Housing Design Charrettes
Maine Sea Grant works in Maine and New Hampshire with the Workforce Housing Coalition of the Greater Seacoast to hold an annual charrette – an intensive planning session where citizens, designers and others collaborate on a vision for developing workforce housing. The 2011 charrette evaluated a site in Kittery that shows promise for development that includes retail, office, and public gathering space, as well as workforce housing.
Affordable Housing Workshop Series
Maine Sea Grant works with partners to implement educational workshops for municipal officials and staff, regional business people, builders and contractors, conservation interests, and committed citizens.
Affordable Housing 101: Steps to Developing Affordable Housing in Your Town
- Fact Sheet 596KB – This fact sheet provides a brief introduction to affordable housing planning for municipal officials, board, members and interested community members.
- Full Text 396KB – This publication provides the full text and complete case studies of lessons learned in southern Maine and New Hampshire, which have been omitted from the introductory document above.