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Podcast Classroom Guide: Housing laws, local control, and tiny houses in NH

In this podcast episode Mike Dunbar and Anna Brown explore a bill that would force towns to allow tiny houses. They discuss the role of government in regulating housing as well as tensions between “local control” advocates and state policymakers.


Podcast includes 15 minutes about tiny house and affordable housing policy debates, 3 additional minutes of "fun facts" about New Hampshire's law against chicken trespassing.

Key concepts/standards

  • Government’s role in regulating housing at the state versus local level
    • SS:CV:12:1.1: Identify the structures and functions of government at various levels, e.g., county—role of the sheriff’s office, or nation—role of providing the defense of the country. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation, B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement)
    • SS:CV:12:1.2: Examine how institutions and individuals make, apply, and enforce rules and laws, e.g., the Federal Communications Commission regulations on television broadcast standards or local public hearings on zoning regulations. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, E: Cultural Development, Interaction, and Change)
    • SS:CV:12:1.3: Evaluate how the purposes of government have been interpreted , e.g., promoting the general welfare or protection of private property. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, D: Material Wants and Needs)
  • Current events: New Hampshire’s affordable housing shortage in the legislature
    • SS:CV:8:2.4: Explain the legislative and political processes by which a bill becomes a law or government policy is established at the local, state, and federal levels, e.g., citizen petitions or conference committees. (Themes: B: Civic Ideals, Practices, and Engagement, H: Individualism, Equality and Authority)
    • SS:CV:12:4.2: Investigate how knowledgeable and engaged citizens have acted to preserve and extend their liberties, e.g., writing letters to the editor or participating in town meetings. (Themes: A: Conflict and Cooperation)

Discussion questions

  • What are some reasons someone might choose to live in a “tiny home”?
  • Why might community leaders want to ban tiny homes?
  • What is the “affordable housing crisis” in New Hampshire? What does “affordable housing” mean?
  • How could tiny homes help address the affordable housing crisis? Would they be a good solution?
  • What are some other ways (besides tiny homes) that local and state government could make housing more affordable?
  • What are “zoning laws” and “building codes”? How do these terms play into the debate over tiny houses?
  • Should the state force towns and cities to allow tiny homes?
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