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Developer to repair old Bangor building, create six affordable housing units

"It won't cure all the problem, but it's a start," said Bruce Hamel.

BANGOR, Maine — Finding affordable housing options in Maine's biggest and most populated cities can be a challenge. 

To incentivize developers, the City of Bangor has had Investor Loans that can help developers flip an old building in need of repair, especially if you the buyer is willing to offer the units at an affordable rental price to tenants.

Bruce Hamel is a builder and the owner of the Milford-based construction company, Hamel Homes.

"It's something I've pretty much done all my life. It's my trade and I love doing this type of work," Hamel said.

He recently bought the vacant property located on 72 Center Street in Bangor.

"You know there's a big need for affordable housing in this area, and when I looked at it, looked at the scope of work needed to be done...I knew it was an undertaking," Hamel said.

The building has three floors and two apartment units on each floor. The building needs a lot of work to bring it back to the proper code regulations.

"Mr. Hamel reached out to our program to see if there was any assistance that we could offer him financially to help rehab the home," said Jeff Labree, the code enforcement director for the City of Bangor.

The City of Bangor gave Hamel a Community Development Residential Rehabilitation Investor of $125,000.

"We also asked that 51% of the units be for low to moderate-income tenants. He was gracious enough to offer all six," added Labree. "That also bumped his cap to the maximum allowable loan that we can give him."

Labree agreed, finding affordable housing units in Bangor has gotten more difficult and he said this project is just a great example of what a developer can help do in a community that needs more of these renovation projects to house people, affordably. 

"We are hoping to work with more people, more investors, on properties...our main objective is to help low to moderate-income people with affordable housing, and these six units will definitely do that."

"It won't cure all the problem but it's a start," Hamel said.

The problem of finding affordable housing in cities like Bangor.

"Just because of the cost of things today... anybody that has invested a lot of money into a project like this one...when you are set and done, the numbers have to work for you to at least make a little bit of money off of it," said Hamel.

Hamel is finishing up other projects but hopes to have the six units ready to go in about eight to 10 months. He says it's too early for applications for these six rentals.