New Bedford's Lisa White, a housing proponent, landlord and former city council candidate, said she learned to drink her coffee black when she was 18 years old, pinching her pennies, saving enough to put down on a mortgage to purchase her first home.

She only had enough money left each month to either buy the coffee or the cream and sugar to put in it, so black coffee – and a sound investment – it was.

That was then, this is now, but her compassion to help people buy their own home is the same today as it was years ago.

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The housing shortage in New Bedford, she said, is a combination of factors at play.

"We're experiencing hyper-inflation, where the dollar loses its purchasing power. The more dollar bills the government prints, the less value it has," White said. "That combined with a diminished supply of housing here contributes to the crisis."

She said there just aren't as many people or businesses looking to build housing in New Bedford as in other surrounding cities and towns.

"There's not a lot of building going on here because it's difficult to build in New Bedford," she said. "I've noticed, though, when I'm in Fall River, I notice many more cranes dotting the skyline and there's construction going on."

A caller reinforced White's observations. "Fall River is more business-friendly and a lot of property there is still quite affordable," the caller said.

White agreed that various departments are difficult to work with, and there needs to be more consistency in New Bedford.

"The problem is they have too many cooks in the kitchen, and each one has a recipe that's a little different," she said.

White said she'd like to see an expansion of condominiums and refurbishing existing buildings, creating more housing in areas where there is little land to build on, such as near new railroad stations going up in the future.

White was critical of the government not doing enough to get the word out to first-time homebuyers.

"There are a lot of excellent programs designed to specifically assist first-time homebuyers, younger households, and lower income families," she said. "Because New Bedford is a gateway city, qualified residents may be approved for up to $25,000 in down payment assistance. Ask around, there are many people unaware of this, that's why it's so important for the radio to help spread the message."

"I highly recommend people go to MassHousing.com. Sit down with a mortgage broker or lender to become pre-qualified," White said.

White, along with her husband Ian, created the NB Strong Facebook page, where this topic is and others concerning the city are discussed in full.

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