Gorham’s new affordable senior housing opens – and it’s already full

Avesta Housing has opened 24 affordable housing units in Gorham for people age 62 or older.

Ridgewood at Village Square consists of one- and two-bedroom apartments targeted to households at or below 60 percent of the area’s median income, or a maximum of $37,020 for a two-person household. All rents are subsidized based on 30 percent of a tenant’s adjusted household income.

The units are coming on the market amid high demand for affordable rental units, especially for older residents.

“Ridgewood filled up fast and there are no vacancies,” said Sara Olsen, development and communications manager at Avesta Housing. “In fact, there are already 42 households on the wait list.”

The Maine Real Estate Managers Association recently released new data that shows nearly 9,900 senior households are waiting for an affordable home through any of 92 property management organizations or landlords, and the Maine Housing Authority has estimated that 6,000 new units for seniors will have to be built in the state over the next seven years.

The 24 new units are among only 39 affordable apartments for seniors to become available in Maine this year, according to Avesta. Westbrook Housing Authority is working on similar developments in that city. Avesta is based in Portland but manages more than 80 properties and 2,000 apartments in southern Maine and New Hampshire, and about half of those are designated for seniors. Avesta’s waiting list currently has 1,425 households, and more than 800 of those applicants are at least 55 years old.

Residents at Ridgewood will be able to participate in a telehealth program through MaineHealth, and representatives will be on hand Thursday for a demonstration.

“This partnership with MaineHealth represents an innovative and exciting collaboration between the healthcare and affordable housing industries,” Dana Totman, president and CEO of Avesta Housing, said in a statement. “Working together we hope to move the needle forward with regard to low-income seniors’ health and well-being.”

The open house will begin at 10 a.m. Thursday at 8 Millett Drive, formerly 99 School St. Speakers will include Assistant House Majority Leader Sara Gideon, MaineHealth President William Caron and Virginia Manuel, the state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s rural development program.

Megan Doyle

Portland Press Herald