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With housing in short supply, Rochester opens affordable apartments for seniors

Champlin Place, a new 65-unit apartment complex, aims to help ease the area’s affordable housing crisis for seniors.
Champlin Place, a new 65-unit apartment complex, aims to help ease the area’s affordable housing crisis for seniors.

A new housing initiative in Rochester aims to address the affordable housing crisis for a growing segment of New Hampshire’s population: older adults. This month, people will begin moving into Champlin Place, a new 65-unit apartment building with accessibility features, support staff and low monthly rent.

Easterseals New Hampshire, which built and manages the new housing, said residents will be able to request regular check-ins from staff and help with home cleaning, grocery shopping, transportation and medical needs.

The apartment complex fits a housing profile that advocates say is desperately needed in New Hampshire, where limited and expensive housing stock pose major challenges for low-income residents, including people hoping to age in place.

The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority says that less than 4% of the state’s housing units have a contract or are managed to ensure affordability — and about half of these are for seniors. The organization manages a number of these properties in Rochester, but demand far exceeds supply.

Marie Poole, who directs housing and property management for Easterseals, said they were overwhelmed by applicants and already have a waitlist.

“We could build four Champlin House places and fill them right now,” she said.

To qualify for a unit in the complex, people must make less than 60% of the area’s median annual income, or less than $51,780. A small number of units are reserved for people who make less than $30,000. The most expensive rent for the units is $1,400 with utilities, and some residents are paying rent in part with housing vouchers.

Easterseals director Maureen Beauregard said the units provide a more affordable option for seniors who may have some physical or health limitations, but don’t need expensive full-time care. Most of the new residents are moving from nearby, and some are moving back to Rochester after being away for decades.

“They deserve a place that's beautiful and warm and affordable, and a place where they don't have to worry,” she said.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.