Why is Ruth's Place important for Portsmouth?
We built Ruth's Place with one central idea in mind: that the ever-increasing cost of housing in Portsmouth has made living here out of reach for thousands of workers and residents who have made contributions to our city and made us one of the best small cities in the country. While housing diversity and affordability has long been a part of our civic dialogue, the public demand for more workforce housing has never been as pronounced in Portsmouth as it is right now.
In recent years, Portsmouth has been struggling with ways to incentivize the development of workforce housing while for-profit developers have almost exclusively been building to meet market demands for rental housing and condominiums that serve the most affluent members of our community. The result is that far too many members of our vital workforce have been priced out of the market.
Ruth Lewin Griffin Place is a historic opportunity to meet this urgent need. This project is converting land in the heart of downtown Portsmouth that is already owned by the PHA, which was primarily used a surface parking lot, and is redeveloping it into 64 one-bedroom and two-bedroom rental units. All of these units will be financially accessible to members of the workforce making at or below 70% of the Area Median Income (AMI), and of those, 24 of the units will be affordable to residents making under 50% AMI.
Ruth’s Place, located at 160 Court Street, is a perfect spot to realize all of the principles of high- quality urban design and is walkable to thousands of jobs in Portsmouth’s downtown. The neighborhood context, at the heart of what some call a municipal campus, between the Middle School, District Court, the Central Fire Station and the Feaster Apartments, is a perfect opportunity to achieve unit density as a function of affordability.
The need for this project is well-documented. The city's 2025 Master Plan, the Portsmouth Business Expansion and Retention Report, Portsmouth Listens, and the Mayor’s Housing Committees all identify the need for housing that is affordable to the city’s workforce. If the city fails to address its shortage of affordable housing, it risks losing the social and economic vitality it treasures: vitality driven, in part, by both those who are employed in its world-class creative economy and our valued public service employees.