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Affordable housing units open in heart of Portland

Twenty-three affordable housing developments being financed by MaineHousing are under construction in Maine.

PORTLAND, Maine — The housing authority in Maine, MaineHousing, estimates that Maine is between 20,000 and 25,000 affordable units short of what we need. That estimate is based on a couple of things, including the waiting list for Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) tenants and an annual survey of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, which does a state-by-state breakdown. 

A celebration will take place Wednesday, June 22, at the new Deering Place in downtown Portland. The development will bring 75 new homes to the city in response to the growing affordable housing crisis.

The event is free and open to the public. The grand opening celebration will be held at 510 Cumberland Ave. and will feature guest speakers, refreshments, giveaways, and more. 

A mix of affordable and market-rate units, Deering Place consists of three apartment buildings located on contiguous lots in the historic Parkside neighborhood: 63 Deering St., a new building; 61 Deering St., a renovated apartment building; and 510 Cumberland Ave., an adaptive reuse of an existing building with a new addition and enclosed parking. Construction on all three buildings utilized sustainable design practices for maximum energy efficiency.

"At a time when housing costs are soaring to record heights in Maine, we are proud to provide safe, quality, affordable homes in the heart of the state's largest city to a diverse population," Dana Totman, Avesta Housing president and CEO, said. "Deering Place exemplifies our mission that everyone deserves a place to call home."

Credit: NCM

Specific Maine Housing details can be found on this website.

Twenty-three affordable housing developments being financed by MaineHousing are under construction in Maine.

MaineHousing communications director Scott Thistle said this represents 570 new affordable units that are being built with an additional 187 affordable units being preserved.

These developments include work in Hancock, Penobscot, Somerset, Franklin Kennebec, Androscoggin, Cumberland, and York counties.

The current MaineHousing development pipeline, which includes projects under construction and being underwritten, includes 57 developments and 1,396 new affordable units, and 653 affordable units preserved.

Here is a link to MaineHousing's available rental programs.

Mark Wiesendanger, MaineHousing's development director, said Maine Housing has a historic amount of affordable units in its development pipeline, the largest number in the past 30 years. He said COVID-19 and new people coming to live and work in Maine have contributed to the housing crisis Maine is seeing.

Amanda Gilliam is the director of property management for Avesta Housing. She said Avesta is working on multiple projects throughout the state to help alleviate the housing crunch in the state. Avesta Housing is making sure to develop affordable housing units within the projects they have in the works. 

Avesta reports applications for affordable housing rose significantly from 2020 to 2021, with more than a third coming from people who identified as being homeless. 

 • Total applications for affordable housing increased by 32 percent (6,231 vs. 4,715)

• More than a third of all applicants (34 percent) identified as being homeless

• Avesta added 179 new homes to its property portfolio, but it was able to house just 7.8 percent of all applicants, a decrease from 9.2 percent in 2020 

To address the growing crisis, Totman urged the Maine Legislature to pass LD 2003, a new bill that would reduce barriers to more affordable housing in the state. 

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