AUGUSTA, Maine — In her second major turnaround of the policy of her predecessor, Governor Janet Mills today signed paperwork to finally approve the senior housing bond, passed by Maine voters in 2015. The bond will provide $15 million to finance construction of senior housing projects around the state, and Mills said she will immediately make $500,000 available for home weather inaction and repair projects for seniors to stay in their homes.
Even though voters supported the bond at the polls in 2015, the money to fund projects was delayed for three years because of opposition from former Gov. Paul LePage. He refused to sign off on release of the bond because he said he disagreed with how the money would be used. The bond had also been a project led by former Speaker of the House Mark Eves, one of LePage’s political opponents. Various senior and affordable housing groups continued to ask him to release the funds, but he consistently refused.
Mills said the money is needed.
“While the people of Maine authorized this bond more than 1,000 days ago, today we proudly move forward in our goal of ensuring all Maine seniors can live safely and with dignity and comfort in the homes and communities they love,” said Governor Janet Mills. “It’s time to build more affordable senior housing as the voters intended.”
Signing off on the immediate release of some of the money will send a message that the housing bond will be sold in the normal timing used by the state treasurer and that funds will become available for projects that are “ready to go.”
According to a press release the governor's office, the funds will be used to create more than 200 new affordable housing units for low-income Maine seniors. The money will also be used to fund weatherization of another 100 homes.
A large crowd of AARP members and others were on hand cheering Mills as she signed off on the bond.