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News

News

Affordable Housing Needs Spike as Practitioners Brace for Trump Administration CutsFeb 21, 2017

Avesta Housing’s January 2017 affordable housing request data show a large increase over the previous January's requests. More...

Avesta Housing Reports Housing Needs Up in 2016Feb 1, 2017

Avesta Housing has released new data describing the demand for and availability of its apartments over the past three years. More...

Local group offers veterans a free seminar on VA LoansJan 23, 2017

This free seminar for veterans is designed to help them understand VA loans. More...

Avesta Housing presents 2016 Mike Yandell Award to the Portland Housing AuthorityJan 12, 2017

Avesta Housing has awarded its 2016 Mike Yandell Award for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing to the Portland Housing Authority.
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Seventy Five State Street and Avesta Housing join forces in their Senior Residential CommunitiesJan 6, 2017

Seventy-Five State Street and Avesta Housing start the New Year with a new collaboration.

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Avesta Selects Yardi Voyager Affordable HousingAug 4, 2016

Yardi Voyager Affordable Housing replaces multiple programs with single platform solution for property management, accounting, compliance and more.

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Affordable Senior Housing Coming to Hampton FallsJul 21, 2016

The Meadows at Grapevine Run, an Avesta Housing development, to open next summer. More...

Avesta Tweaking Southgate PlansJul 14, 2016

Fewer, bigger units are envisioned for the Scarborough project in an effort to secure funding.

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Scarborough Affordable Housing Proposal Gets More Friendly to FamiliesJul 14, 2016

Revised project will turn historic farmhouse into affordable housing. More...

Advocates Push for $15 Million Voter-Approved Senior Housing BondJul 5, 2016

The immediate need for at least 9,000 apartments for low-income older Mainers has resulted in a stalemate between Republican Gov. Paul LePage and his Democratic adversaries. More...

Avesta Combines Healthy Living Center with Affordable HousingJul 1, 2016

409 Cumberland Avenue Apartments in Portland, Maine, features a rooftop greenhouse and a demonstration kitchen.

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Taking Affordable Housing to New "Heights"Jun 29, 2016

More affordable apartments finished in Portland.

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18-Unit Affordable Housing Complex Opens in PortlandJun 29, 2016

Thomas Heights provides homes for veterans.

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Avesta Housing to Host Grand Opening of Newest Affordable Housing in PortlandJun 28, 2016

Event featuring the 18-unit efficiency building will take place June 29. More...

New 18-Unit Building in Portland Designed to House Low-Income VeteransJun 28, 2016

Thomas Heights is named after Thomas Ptacek, a local advocate for homeless veterans. More...

Affordable Housing Facility in Portland to Hold Grand Opening Jun 28, 2016

June 29 event will feature new, 18-unit building. More...

New Affordable Housing in Portland Has Veterans in MindJun 28, 2016

Avesta's 18-unit building on Washington Avenue is named after a formerly homeless veteran. More...

Maine Gets Another Passive-House MultifamilyJun 23, 2016

Development team looks for ways to keep costs down while accelerating construction schedule.

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Avesta Adds 18 Affordable Housing Units to PortlandJun 22, 2016

New energy-efficient building will hold Grand Opening on June 29. More...

409 Cumberland in Portland Recognized for National Excellence in Affordable HousingJun 8, 2016

Prestigious Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award Presented to Avesta Housing for 409 Cumberland

 

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Avesta Housing Celebrates New Senior Affordable Housing with PartnersJun 7, 2016

The Grand Opening for Young Street Apartments, a senior affordable housing community, took place on June 3. Avesta was joined by partners and neighbors as they celebrated this exceptional property nestled in the heart of downtown South Berwick, Maine. More...

AHF Unveils 2016 Readers' Choice Award FinalistsJun 3, 2016

The 34 projects are some of the best affordable housing developments completed in 2015 and 2016.

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South Berwick Senior Apartments Draw PraiseJun 3, 2016

The 28-unit building also features a telemedicine room. More...

Falmouth Council Approves Avesta Proposal, Pedestrian PlanMay 26, 2016

Not only will new units be created. but existing units will be renovated. More...

Urban Gardeners Plotting on the Roof, in the Streets of PortlandMay 14, 2016

Avesta's 409 Cumberland Ave is the home of Portland's first roof-top garden. More...

Affordable Housing Proposals Move Ahead in FalmouthMay 10, 2016

Town Council meeting focuses on three development projects, including Avesta's Blackstone Apartments. More...

Nonprofit to Celebrate the Opening of New Affordable Housing in ExeterMay 5, 2016

Avesta Will Celebrate the Opening of its Newest Affordable Housing in New Hampshire More...

New Affordable Housing Units Open in ExeterApr 27, 2016

Avesta Housing will host a grand opening event on May 6. More...

Portland Considers Steps to House the HomelessApr 18, 2016

A new policy would require developers who get certain public funds to set aside units for people in city-run homeless shelters. More...

Portland Business Leaders Skeptical of Policy Requiring Housing for HomelessApr 13, 2016

Proposal raises concerns for some, but is supported by others in the community. More...

How LePage Can Ease the Intolerable Waiting Game for Affordable HousingApr 2, 2016

AARP Maine advocacy volunteers speak about the challenges faced by seniors in obtaining affordable housing. More...

Senior Housing Advocates Push for Funding's ReleaseMar 30, 2016

Despite voter approval and advocacy efforts, LePage has not released senior affordable housing bond. More...

Our View: Housing Crunch Extends Beyond Portland as a Regional ProblemMar 25, 2016

Southern Maine’s economic health depends on workers’ access to reasonably priced places to live. More...

2 Falmouth Projects Propose Affordable Housing for SeniorsMar 15, 2016

Two proposals for affordable senior housing discussed at Town Council meeting. More...

Bangor, Portland Need More Affordable HousingMar 11, 2016

Bangor and Portland pursue innovative solutions to their affordable housing crunches. More...

Small-Town America Is Facing Big-City ProblemsFeb 29, 2016

From Portland, Maine to Traverse City, Michigan, many smaller U.S. cities are struggling with densification, NIMBY politics, and housing affordability.

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Maine Voters Settled Senior Housing Debate. LePage Should Respect That.Feb 27, 2016

Maine Governor won't release voter-approved bond. More...

‘Desperate Situations’: Bond to Improve Housing For Maine’s Low-Income Elderly Awaits LePage ApprovalFeb 26, 2016

At least 9,000 low-income seniors in Maine are unable to find affordable places to live. More...

Housing Needs Higher than EverFeb 9, 2016

Survey finds that need for affordable housing is at all an all-time high. More...

Housing Needs Up in 2015Feb 8, 2016

Avesta Housing Reports Housing Needs Up 9% in 2015; Senior Households Represent Largest Share of Increase More...

NeighborWorks' Network Invests Nearly $2 Billion in Affordable Housing in 2015Jan 29, 2016

The network's rental housing portfolio exceeds 140,000 homes.

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Maine Voices: It’s Time to Take Action to Make Portland’s Housing AffordableJan 15, 2016

The market will not simply act on its own to provide enough rental units for residents at or below the median income.

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'Crown of Thorns' a Monument to Portland's Homeless WomenJan 13, 2016

Portland's "Crown of Thorns" monument is a symbol of women's struggle with homelessness.

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5 Ways to Create a Better Community RoomJan 7, 2016

Developers and architects share their ideas for creating popular community spaces.

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Avesta Housing Wins Annual TD Charitable Foundation Housing for Everyone Affordable Housing Grant Competition, Awarded $100,000 for Blackstone ApartmentsDec 24, 2015

TD Charitable Foundation Awards $100,000 to Avesta Housing More...

Tax credits to boost region’s affordable housingDec 7, 2015

Portland and Falmouth projects are among five in Maine that will share $3 million in federal credits. More...

Preble Street and Avesta Housing on TideSmart RadioNov 7, 2015

This week on TideSmart Talk, we focused on housing and homelessness in Maine. In this two-part show, Mark Swann from Preble Street joined us to describe what he, the staff, and over 6,000 volunteers do to help serve 600,000 meals annually and to people and to combat homelessness and poverty. Dana Totman of Avesta Housing described how over 3,000 seniors in Maine are seeking affordable housing, but Avesta is only able to help ~300.

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Unveiling of new affordable senior housing in South Berwick coincides with statewide housing bond vote Nov 2, 2015

Avesta Housing is today celebrating 28 new, energy-efficient, affordable apartments for seniors in downtown South Berwick and highlighting a new partnership with York Hospital to provide health care services to prospective residents.

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South Berwick gets 28-unit, affordable housing project for seniorsNov 2, 2015

Avesta Housing on Monday unveiled 28 new affordable apartments for seniors in downtown South Berwick. More...

House Speaker urges support for housing bondNov 2, 2015

Though a new affordable 28-unit housing development in South Berwick has yet to open, 60 people have already applied to live there.

That problem is magnified all over Maine, according to Maine House Speaker Mark Eves.

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Report: Portland on track to becoming 'top tier' sustainable cityOct 27, 2015

A environmental advocacy group todayreleased a report that it hopes will gain Portland more national recognition for its work in promoting sustainability. More...

Passage of housing bond would help Maine seniorsOct 24, 2015

Safe affordable apartments for as many as 225 low-income Mainers age 55 and older could be built if on Nov. 3 voters approve Question 2 on the state-wide referendum ballot. More...

Opponents: Question 2 would limit affordable housingOct 21, 2015

Supporters of low-income housing joined with AARP officials and homeless advocates this morning to voice their concern about a proposal to limit development in Portland. More...

Portland council votes again to approve tax deal for affordable housing in West EndSep 21, 2015

The 7-2 vote – identical to the council's vote last month – will allow Avesta Housing to use 65 percent of the development's property taxes to operate the building at 17 Carleton St. More...

Society Notebook: Portland’s uppermost green livingSep 20, 2015

The 409 Cumberland apartment community celebrates the fruits of its rooftop garden and greenhouse. More...

Avesta Housing appoints new members to its board of directorsSep 10, 2015

Avesta Housing has appointed new appointments to its board of directors.

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Employees honored by Avesta HousingSep 8, 2015

Avesta Housing recently honored the exemplary service and dedication of its employees. Avesta’s mission is to improve lives and strengthen communities by promoting and providing quality affordable homes for people in need.

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Web-based personal finance class to be offered Sept. 24Sep 4, 2015

Students can learn about budgeting, credit, banking and other personal finance matters. More...

Avesta Housing announces new hiresSep 1, 2015

Avesta Housing, northern New England’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer and property manager, has recently hired several people. More...

409 Cumberland grand openingAug 24, 2015

On Tuesday, August 12, Avesta Housing welcomed over 125 funders, dignitaries, friends and neighbors to the grand opening of its latest achievement in affordable housing – 409 Cumberland. More...

Avesta Housing presents 2015 Mike Yandell Award to Portland Press HeraldAug 18, 2015

Avesta Housing has awarded its 2015 Mike Yandell Award for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing to the Portland Press Herald.

Avesta Housing has awarded its 2015 Mike Yandell Award for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing to the Portland Press Herald. Avesta president Dana Totman presented the award to Portland Press Herald editorial page editor Greg Kesich at the grand opening of Avesta’s newest affordable housing property – 409 Cumberland – on August 12. Avesta chose the Portland Press Herald because of its reporting and editorial coverage of the affordable housing crisis in Portland and southern Maine. In the past year, the Portland Press Herald covered affordable housing topics ranging from the challenges our seniors face living safely and warmly, the needs of those that are homeless, the need to assist asylum seekers and immigrants, the problems associated with anti-growth mindsets, the unfairness of letting mortgage deduction tax credits trump needed rental assistance and the simple need to create housing that is more affordable.

In presenting the award, Totman talked about how affordable housing competes with other social issues, but how strong the need is to shine a light on this critical issue. He noted the “The Challenge of our Age” special series by Kelly Bouchard and others as integral to highlighting our need for senior housing. Totman explained, “The Portland Press Herald has helped pave the way to getting the resources and increasing the supporters necessary to provide more affordable housing.”

About the Mike Yandell Award

Since 2005, Avesta Housing has recognized an individual or organization for their service and dedication to the affordable housing industry. The award is named for the late Mike Yandell, a former Avesta Housing board chair and the former president of Gorham Savings Bank, who is remembered for his commitment to improving the community.

Past honorees of the Mike Yandell Award

2014 Jess Maurer, Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging

2013 John Ryan, Wright Ryan Construction

2012 USDA Rural Development, Maine State Office

2011 Gorham Savings Bank

2010 The Genesis Fund

2009 Ben Walter, CWS Architects

2008 John Gallagher, Westbrook Housing Authority

2007 David Bronson, TD Bank

2006 Northern New England Housing Investment Fund

2005 Preble Street Resource Center

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Southgate House redevelopment set for approvalJul 22, 2015

Avesta Housing needs contract zone approval to redevelop the historic Southgate House in the Dunstan area of Scarborough. More...

Portland affordable-housing proposalsJun 16, 2015

West End advances, Bayside slows More...

Scarborough planners like affordable housing planJun 4, 2015

Avesta Housing’s proposal to turn the historic Southgate Farmhouse property into a 50-unit affordable housing project is moving forward. More...

How much do you need to work to afford an apartment in Maine?May 31, 2015

An analysis by BDN writer Seth Koenig More...

Nonprofit aims to convert historic Scarborough farmstead to 50 affordable apartmentsMay 7, 2015

Avesta Housing wants to convert the Southgate House in Scarborough into a 50-unit affordable housing complex. More...

At home at lastMay 1, 2015

How 2 very different Maine towns work to meet the incredible demand for senior housing More...

Housing seen as likely future for unused Portland schoolApr 28, 2015

Avesta Housing considers unused POrtland school building for affordable housing. More...

South Berwick senior housing project underwayApr 6, 2015

Construction is underway to build 28 affordable senior housing units, which will be called the Young Street Apartments in South Berwick. More...

For seniors, a high-end 
boom in Maine rental housingMar 29, 2015

As affordable housing options lag far behind, the high-end surge stands in stark contrast to the dire need for subsidized units in Maine. More...

Maine housing project gets $1M in grantsMar 3, 2015

Five affordable housing initiatives in Maine are receiving a total of more than $1 million in grants from a national nonprofit that was established by Congress. More...

Portland considers ordinance to increase affordable housingFeb 25, 2015

The proposal would require developers of 10 or more units to make at least 10 percent of those units affordable to the middle class.

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Affordable Housing Coalition releases new data on senior housing needs in Maine, joins with state legislative leaders in call for passage of Senior Housing BondFeb 11, 2015

The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC) released new research today on Maine’s senior population, housing stock and unmet senior housing needs.

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Greater Portland enduring an affordable housing crunchJan 9, 2015

Avesta Housing reports on the factors that limited the southern Maine nonprofit to helping only 11 percent of clients find homes in 2014. More...

Maine Voices: Problem of inadequate housing needs long-term, statewide solutionJan 8, 2015

Dana Totman, Avesta Housing president and CEO discusses housing challenges in this editorial. "It's time for difficult policy discussions to happen in Washington, Augusta and local communities." More...

New Portland peninsula housing remains predominantly priceyJan 6, 2015

Portland in need of affordable housing to meet the demand of its residents. More...

Avesta Housing presents 2014 Mike Yandell Award to Jess Maurer of Maine Association of Area Agencies on AgingJan 5, 2015

Avesta Housing has awarded the 2014 Mike Yandell Award for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing to Jess Maurer, executive director of the Maine Association of Area Agencies on Aging. More...

Avesta Housing appoints Tony Cipollone to board of directorsJan 2, 2015

Avesta Housing has appointed Tony Cipollone to its board of directors. Cipollone is the president and CEO of the John T. Gorman Foundation, which advances ideas and opportunities that can improve the lives of disadvantaged people in Maine. More...

Ceremony marks beginning of new senior housing unit projectDec 18, 2014

A new senior housing project in South Berwick to break ground. More...

Housing for homeless planned near Morrill’s CornerNov 26, 2014

Avesta advances its efforts to get those with chronic illnesses off the streets with a proposal for a 30-unit apartment building in Portland. More...

Abstract art by Zoo Cain featured for First Friday Art walk at Oak Street LoftsNov 26, 2014

Artist Zoo Cain will be showing his abstract artwork Friday, Dec. 5, from 5-8 p.m. at Oak Street Lofts gallery. More...

Avesta HomeOwnership Center awarded $20,000 grant from Bank of America Charitable FoundationSep 23, 2014

The Avesta HomeOwnership Center has received $20,000 from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to support the center’s programs to assist Maine home buyers and homeowners.

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Avesta Housing celebrates the grand opening of the Adams School CondominiumsJul 25, 2014

Project provides affordable homeownership opportunities on Portland’s Munjoy Hill

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Avesta HomeOwnership Center receives $3,000 from People’s United Community FoundationJul 1, 2014

The Avesta HomeOwnership Center has received $3,000 from the People’s United Community Foundation, the philanthropic arm of People’s United Bank, to further the center’s work to help Maine home buyers and homeowners. More...

Avesta Housing celebrates the grand opening of Hyacinth PlaceMay 20, 2014

Through a combination of historic reuse and new construction, Avesta, along with Developers Collaborative, created new homes for Maine families and preserved the historically and culturally significant St. Hyacinth school and convent buildings. More...

Agency seeks tax break for Portland housing projectMay 20, 2014

The apartment building, built near the intersections with Fox and Walnut streets, would sit on lots totaling about a quarter of an acre. Rentals would be open to the public, but the agency wants to target military veterans, according to Planning Board documents. More...

Project continues trend of converting old Maine schools to new housingMay 17, 2014

The latest example of the thriving school-to-home movement was on display Friday in Westbrook as Avesta hosted its ceremonial grand opening of the $9.5 million Hyacinth Place, a 19th century parochial school and convent redeveloped into an energy-efficient 37-unit affordable housing campus. More...

City to invest in housing first approachMay 1, 2014

Avesta CEO Dana Totman, who served on the city's homelessness task force, said housing first developments are critical in getting people transitioned from shelters into permanent housing. He said the proposed project would be Avesta's third housing first model development and the group is actively looking for sites and taking other preliminary steps. More...

Mixed-media show happening Friday at Oak Street LoftsMay 1, 2014

"I love color, which is why I love to use paint, because I feel it has such a vibrant look to it.” More...

Avesta wants to raze one building, then raise another Apr 24, 2014

The Portland nonprofit proposes replacing a modest single-family home with a complex of 18 units to help alleviate a 'crisis' in affordable rents. More...

Oak Street Lofts hosts artists from Running With Scissors for First Friday Art WalkApr 2, 2014

Resident artists with Bayside studio collective Running With Scissors will be showing their work Friday, April 4, from 5-8 p.m. at Oak Street Lofts gallery. More...

Avesta proposes more senior housing in PortlandApr 1, 2014

Avesta Housing is proposing a new development at the end of Powsland Street, off of Congress Street in Portland. More...

Maine Advocates Underscore Affordable Housing Need in Monthly ReportMar 10, 2014

Avesta Housing (Avesta), a founding member of NLIHC State Coalition Partner, the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC), launched the inaugural edition of its Affordable Housing Activity Report. More...

Westbrook painter explores “Fluidity” at Oak Street LoftsMar 5, 2014

Entitled “Fluidity,” the show features acrylic paintings on canvas and wood inspired by nature and love. More...

Avesta Housing releases key data on demand for affordable homesFeb 20, 2014

Avesta Housing has released its first monthly Affordable Housing Activity Report, which provides key information about the local demand for affordable homes. More...

Collaboration between Maine College of Art and Bayside East seniors featured at Oak Street LoftsFeb 5, 2014

A class of Maine College of Art students spent their fall semester with a group of residents at Bayside East, an affordable housing community for seniors, to create art inspired by the residents’ special objects. The students created 11 original prints based on the stories and memories shared by the residents.

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TD Charitable Foundation Supports Avesta HomeOwnership Center with Donation Dec 18, 2013

“Avesta appreciates the continued support of the TD Charitable Foundation,” said President and CEO Dana Totman. “This funding will help us create sustainable homeownership opportunities for Maine families and strengthen our communities.” More...

Q+A with Development Officer Greg Payne of Avesta Housing’s Oak Street LoftsDec 2, 2013

The first affordable multifamily building in Maine to achieve LEED Platinum certification, Avesta’s Oak Street Lofts were designed and built by CWS Architects and Wright-Ryan Construction, with sustainability consulting by Thornton Tomasetti. More...

Avesta Housing announces new hiresDec 2, 2013

Avesta Housing, northern New England’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, has recently hired several people. More...

Portland artist Deb Barth featured at Oak Street Lofts in NovemberOct 31, 2013

Deb Barth has a style that can only be described as looking at life through a kaleidoscope. Vibrant colors and patterns create powerful images that leave the eye wanting more. More...

Seniors celebrate opening of Stonecrest apartmentsOct 15, 2013

A harvest luncheon at Stonecrest in Standish last Friday brought residents and community leaders together to celebrate the early March completion of Avesta Housing’s development of 25 affordable, energy-efficient apartments that were built for low-income seniors and disabled adults. More...

Residents of new housing development for low-income elders celebrate ‘cozy porches’ and ‘a sense of being home’Oct 6, 2013

“I’ve lived here for only four months, and I’ve met so many nice people here,” said resident Avis Goodwin, one of the lucky applicants to earn a slot. “Happy people walking their dogs, people waving to you from their cozy little porches. It gives you a sense of being home.” More...

Don’t Getcha Hopes Up Art Show highlights skateboard and snowboard sceneOct 2, 2013

The local skateboarding and snowboarding scene is the focus of this Friday’s show at Oak Street Lofts gallery, which is open for First Friday Art Walk from 5-8 p.m.

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Avesta’s Pearl Place II earns LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building CouncilSep 13, 2013

“Pearl Place II continues our legacy of building sustainable, energy-efficient homes for Mainers,” said Avesta President and CEO Dana Totman. “Efficient buildings are more durable, cost less to operate and provide a safer, healthier place for our residents to live.” More...

Campers’ artwork on display Friday at Oak Street LoftsSep 3, 2013

Artwork made by children at Camp Sokokis in Biddeford will be on display for First Friday Art Walk on Friday, September 6 from 5-8 p.m. More...

Avesta HomeOwnership Center offers Homebuyer Education CoursesAug 22, 2013

So far this year, the HomeOwnership Center has helped more than 120 people navigate the home-buying process through the Homebuyer Education Course. More...

Deutsche Bank and Enterprise Community Partners Announce Lowering the Cost of Housing WinnersAug 9, 2013

Top Projects in Portland, Maine, and Austin, Texas

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Bayside housing would be built on tax creditsJul 30, 2013

The apartments would provide housing to individuals and families who earn between $18,000 and $45,000 a year. More...

Historic School Now Serving SeniorsJul 26, 2013

Affordable Housing Finance 2013 Readers' Choice Awards
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Paintings, drawings and more on display at Oak Street Lofts in AugustJul 26, 2013

Paintings, drawings, photography and other work by two Oak Street Lofts resident artists will be on display Friday, August 2 from 5-8 p.m. for First Friday Art Walk. More...

New partnership aligns Avesta Housing and Habitat for Humanity of Greater PortlandJul 24, 2013

“Our organizations have a similar mission: to provide sustainable homeownership opportunities to people who need them,” said David Stolt, Home Ownership Services Manager at Avesta Housing. “Research shows that homebuyers who receive pre-purchase housing counseling are one-third less likely to fall behind on their mortgage payments. This partnership gives buyers the knowledge they need to be successful homeowners and contributors to their communities.” More...

Park Street School named a finalist in Affordable Housing Finance Magazine Readers’ Choice AwardsJul 18, 2013

Avesta Housing’s Park Street School in Kennebunk has been named a finalist in the 2013 Affordable Housing Finance Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards in the category of Rural Housing. More...

Children’s art explores the meaning of communityJul 1, 2013

The theme of the Children’s Community Art Project is, “What do you enjoy about living in your community?” More...

Avesta Housing celebrates the grand opening of Pearl Place IIJun 14, 2013

Avesta Housing on Monday celebrated the grand opening of Pearl Place II, a 54-apartment affordable housing community in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood. More...

Avesta Housing presents 2013 Mike Yandell Award to John Ryan of Wright-Ryan ConstructionJun 12, 2013

"John Ryan is a true professional, an accomplished business owner, a tremendous leader, and someone who takes the success of each and every project seriously." More...

Avesta marks the opening of Pearl Place IIJun 11, 2013

After nearly a decade, Avesta Housing finally reached its goal of creating 100 new housing units in Portland's East Bayside neighborhood with the opening of Pearl Place II. More...

Never too late to paint: Nursing home painters snag gallery show in PortlandJun 8, 2013

Michelle Michaud saw the residents' paintings while visiting her grandmother at Marshwood and recommended the pieces go on display in the gallery space at Oak Street Lofts in Portland, where she lives. More...

Partnership brings art made by seniors to Oak Street LoftsJun 4, 2013

Friday’s gallery show is the result of a collaboration between Oak Street Lofts resident Michelle Michaud and the Marshwood Center. Michelle was visiting her grandmother at the Marshwood Center and saw the residents’ art on display. She approached the Center about a gallery showing at Oak Street Lofts. More...

MEREDA Celebrates Real Estate Development in Maine and Recognizes 2012 Top Notable ProjectsJun 1, 2013

Honorees included: Ocean Properties, Ltd. for the West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor, Avesta Housing for Oak Street Lofts in Portland, Park Street School in Kennebunk, and Emery School in Biddeford, The Szanton Company for The Lofts at Bates Mill in Lewiston, and the University of New England for the Harold Alfond Forum in Biddeford. More...

Oak Street Lofts Gallery show celebrates the sunMay 1, 2013

The gallery at Oak Street Lofts will feature the work of resident artist Ingrid Grins on Friday, May 3, from 5-8 p.m. for First Friday Art Walk. More...

Oak Street Lofts wins Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Award in Green HousingApr 24, 2013

Oak Street Lofts, a LEED Platinum-certified affordable housing community in Portland developed and owned by Avesta Housing, has been named the winner of the 19th annual Charles L. Edson Tax Credit Excellence Awards in the category of Green Housing. More...

CEO Dana Totman gets Avesta in gearApr 2, 2013

"In all my positions throughout my career, I've tried to take an organization to another, better place," says Totman. More...

Oak Street Lofts gallery to feature Ukrainian eggsApr 1, 2013

The work of Oak Street Lofts resident Tanya Zivkovic will be on display for First Friday Art Walk Friday, April 5, from 5-8 p.m. at the Oak Street Lofts gallery. The show will feature Zivkovic's photography, collage and Ukrainian eggs. More...

Avesta HomeOwnership Center announces Homebuyer Education CourseMar 27, 2013

The course is designed to assist people in all stages of the home-buying process: renters who want to determine if home-buying is right for them, first-time homebuyers who need to learn more about the process, and current owners who are refinancing their homes. More...

Bayside Anchor affordable housing project finalist in national competitionMar 15, 2013

A proposed multi-family housing development in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood has been selected as one of four finalists in a national competition aimed at finding innovative ways to lower the cost of housing. More...

Avesta Housing announces board appointmentsMar 12, 2013

Avesta Housing has announced the following appointments to its board of directors More...

“Other Hand” exhibit on display at Oak Street Lofts galleryFeb 26, 2013

A collection of work made by local artists using their non-dominant hands will be on display Friday, March 1, from 5-9 p.m. at the Oak Street Lofts gallery for First Friday Art Walk. More...

Looking up on the HillFeb 25, 2013

Allowing neighborhoods to deteriorate so rents stay cheap, though, is not a good way to provide affordable housing, says Jeff Levine, director of the city's Planning and Urban Development Department. A better way, he says, is to support initiatives like the Avesta Housing project at the former Adams School site.

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Second phase of affordable Pearl Place housing complex the latest addition to Portland’s Bayside neighborhoodFeb 17, 2013

The Avesta projects promise to fulfill an area need for “multifamily residential housing,” which a 2000 city approved redevelopment vision for the neighborhood called “a critical component of an urban district.” More...

Woodworking, photography on display Friday at Oak Street LoftsJan 29, 2013

Two local artists will display their work Friday, Feb. 1, from 5-8 p.m. at the Oak Street Lofts gallery for First Friday Art Walk. More...

Avesta Housing President and CEO Dana Totman Receives MEREDA Robert B. Patterson Jr. Founder’s AwardJan 25, 2013

The Maine Real Estate and Development Association has named Avesta Housing President and CEO Dana Totman the 2012 recipient of the Robert B. Patterson Jr. Founder’s Award. More...

Greg Payne named to Genesis Community Loan Fund Board of DirectorsDec 20, 2012

Greg Payne, a Development Officer at Avesta Housing, has been named to the board of directors of the Genesis Community Loan Fund. More...

Avesta Housing welcomes new staff membersDec 7, 2012

Avesta Housing has recently hired several new staff members to its administrative, property management and finance departments. More...

Stiletto still life photography on display Friday at Oak Street LoftsDec 4, 2012

A photography exhibit of stiletto shoes will be on display Friday, Dec. 7, from 5-8 p.m. at the Oak Street Lofts gallery for First Friday Art Walk. More...

Avesta Housing Wins Annual TD Charitable Foundation Housing for Everyone Affordable Housing Grant Competition, Awarded $100,000 to Improve Accessibility at Logan Place Nov 30, 2012

The grant funding will fund accessibility improvements that will allow residents who require wheelchairs, walkers or oxygen tanks to live safely and independently, which in turn will boost their confidence and sense of self-worth and increase their chances of living successfully in long-term housing. More...

Avesta Housing celebrates grand opening of Park Street School apartments for seniorsNov 20, 2012

"Today Park Street School is embarking on a new era of service to the community." More...

U.S. Green Building Council names Avesta Housing its 2012 Outstanding Affordable Developer for Oak Street LoftsNov 19, 2012

“Avesta is committed to making smart, strategic investments that extend the lives of their facilities, lower operating costs and improve the lives of their residents." More...

Avesta Housing presents 2012 Mike Yandell Award to USDA Rural Development Maine State OfficeNov 13, 2012

Avesta Housing has awarded the 2012 Mike Yandell Award for extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing to the Maine State Office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. More...

Dana Totman hosts group of affordable housing peers from around the countryNov 1, 2012

Avesta President Dana Totman recently hosted five affordable housing professionals from around the country to tour some of Avesta's properties and share best practices for providing safe, decent affordable housing. More...

Maine developers lead the effort to reuse shuttered schoolsOct 29, 2012

"We embrace 'smart growth' principles," says Dana Totman. "We want to build housing in the center of communities."
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Oil and watercolor work on display Friday at Oak Street LoftsOct 29, 2012

The public is invited to view a show of oil and watercolor art on display Friday, Nov. 2, from 5-8 p.m. at the Oak Street Lofts gallery for First Friday Art Walk. More...

Redevelopment of former Emery School into senior housing celebrated in BiddefordOct 16, 2012

Avesta Housing, along with our partners and community members, on Thursday celebrated the grand reopening of Emery School, which is now home to 24 affordable apartments for people 55 and older. More...

Bangor Savings Bank Foundation donates $15,000 to Avesta Housing’s Home Ownership CenterOct 15, 2012

The Bangor Savings Bank Foundation recently contributed $15,000 to Avesta Housing to further the work of Avesta’s new Home Ownership Center. More...

Julia: Prescott Heights' resident photographerOct 3, 2012

Julia Stackpole, a former paramedic and police officer, moved into Prescott Heights in March and enjoys driving to the ocean to take photographs
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Creepy creatures and crazy characters on display at Oak Street Lofts for First Friday Art WalkOct 2, 2012

The surreal and the strange will be on display Friday, Oct. 5, from 5-8 p.m. at the Oak Street Lofts gallery for First Friday Art Walk. More...

Avesta’s Cascade Brook fills need for affordable senior housing in SacoOct 2, 2012

Avesta Housing on Sept. 26 celebrated the grand opening of Cascade Brook, a new, 30-apartment affordable community in Saco for residents 55 and older. More...

Park Street School Apartments openSep 20, 2012

"I'm home," said Maddy Brannen, looking at the names of her children and grandchildren written on a chalkboard in her new Park Street School apartment — a remnant of the classroom that was once there. More...

TD Charitable Foundation supports Avesta Housing’s Home Ownership Center with donationSep 20, 2012

The TD Charitable Foundation, funded by TD Bank, recently contributed $25,000 to Avesta Housing in Cumberland County as part of the bank’s commitment to giving back to the community. More...

Avesta celebrates construction of affordable homes on Munjoy HillSep 18, 2012

More than 80 people turned out Thursday, Sept. 13, to the former Marada Adams School site on Munjoy Hill to celebrate the construction of Avesta Housing’s 16 condominiums.

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Homespun art from the urban coreSep 6, 2012

Two First Friday Art Walk openings feature the works of Portland artists who could follow the motto: Artists who live together, create compelling art together. Oak Street Lofts, an Avesta Housing affordable housing complex catering to artists which opened at the beginning of this year.

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Oak Street Lofts to showcase mixed-media work for First Friday Art WalkSep 5, 2012

The art gallery at Oak Street Lofts will open Friday, Sept. 7, from 5-8 p.m. as part of the city’s First Friday Art Walk. More...

Avesta Housing hires Mindy Woerter as communications managerAug 20, 2012

Avesta Housing has hired Mindy Woerter as its new communications manager.

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Avesta Housing awarded $20,000 grant from Bank of America Charitable Foundation for new Home Ownership CenterAug 10, 2012

Avesta Housing, northern New England’s largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to support its new Home Ownership Center. More...

Christine, Prescott Heights’ newest resident: Part 2Jul 18, 2012

Read Part 1 of this interview

***Christine has asked not to be photographed for this interview. Without sharing specifics of Christine’s past that she did not want to be made public, the reader should know that Christine has three children who do not live with her at her apartment; she has PTSD that required our interview be conducted in a common area instead of her apartment. “I know you’re probably a nice guy,” she says to me at the start of the interview, “I just feel more relaxed in an open space.”***

Now that Christine had an apartment, her next objective was to make it her home. With no furniture to her name, her neighbors in Prescott Heights pitched in to assist, “my neighbors made me feel very comfortable and welcomed,” Christine remembers, but they only had so much to spare. Christine needed more assistance to furnish her home. Angela Littlefield, an Avesta resident service coordinator recalls Christine’s first days after moving in:

“After Christine moved in, I met with her to do a new resident orientation and introduce myself. When I walked into her apartment all she had was a kitchen table, a small chair that a neighbor gave to her, a TV stand with a small TV on it, and a mattress from a pull out couch on the floor that a neighbor had let her borrow. Although she did not have much she was very appreciative of what she did have and to have a place to call her home. She stated to me that she needed some furniture and (asked) if I knew of any resources for her. Every resource I listed off she had already contacted. I told her we could try some local churches. I contacted two and let them know the need that was out there. The next day I got a phone call from a lady from one of the churches stating she had a house full of furniture and she was getting rid of it but it had to go that day. I immediately called Christine to let her know and gave her the contact information. She did not have a car suitable to pick up large furniture items so she contacted the other local church and someone there was able to drive her to and from with a truck to haul the furniture in. The next time I went to see Christine she had an apartment full of furniture! The only thing she was missing was a bed she was planning to purchase the next month. She kept stating ‘Things like this just don’t happen to me, thank you so much.’“

Christine’s apartment was fully furnished by a generous donor and neighbors who enthusiastically told Avesta staff that she was “fitting right in.” Prescott Heights’ layout creates its own community, and so Christine found herself with new friends rather quickly. She still had yet to venture into the town of North Berwick, something she was terrified to do. “I have a lot of anxiety around new places and new people,” Christine explains, “but I knew I had to face my fears. First I practiced walking in the parking lot. When I felt comfortable with that, I started walking down the block until I had to turn back. Then once I made it the full block, I finally made it to the library. That’s really important for me because I like to research (religious) texts. It was a huge change in my life when I could walk into town regularly.

“You might not look at me and think that I would have a problem like that, but you never know someone’s story when they’re just walking down the street. I saw a blond lady in a Mercedes once and I thought ‘she’s got it made,’ but when she parked the car and I saw her closer, I noticed the same blond hair I thought looked so nice from afar was a wig. She probably had cancer. You can’t assume you know someone’s life or what they went through until you take the time to understand them.”

Christine’s life 5 months ago was one of rural poverty, near homelessness. She endured these types of conditions most of her life. She was in a place where she actually believed that this standard of living was what she deserved, freezing in her trailer praying for the sun to go down so she could sleep.

What Christine deserved was a warm room where she could knit and sit and watch TV with her cat, a kitchen so she could cook chowder and lasagna for her neighbors, a community of support to turn those neighbors into friends, and she deserved access to groups and resources so that she could learn from and in turn teach other people. In telling her story, she is so careful to site all those who helped her, even to the point of suggesting her story be more about them than herself. She thanked the people who helped place her in affordable housing, the people who helped move her in, the people who helped fix things around her apartment, the neighbors who offered her kindness, even the people who had hurt her in the past as they then taught her how to forgive. And at the end of telling her story the last thing she said was: “Thank you for hearing my story without judging me. It means so much.”



Portland Man Honored for Management of Gorham Senior HousingJul 17, 2012

Georges said of receiving the recognition “The work that we do is inspiring.  I am glad to be part of such a noble mission, helping thousands of people find a home that they can afford.”

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Avesta Wins Approval for Senior Housing in South BerwickJul 13, 2012

After more than six months of discussions and negotiations, voters in South Berwick have given the go-ahead for the development of a new 28-unit apartment building for seniors. More...

Christine, Prescott Heights’ newest resident: Part 1Jul 3, 2012

***Christine has asked not to be photographed for this interview. Without sharing specifics of Christine’s past that she did not want to be made public, the reader should know that Christine has three children who do not live with her at her apartment; she has PTSD that required our interview be conducted in a common area instead of her apartment. “I know you’re probably a nice guy,” she says to me at the start of the interview, “I just feel more relaxed in an open space.”***

When Christine Moss moved into her Prescott Heights apartment on February 1st of 2012, her world transformed. “I was living in Alfred in a mobile home with no heat. In the winter that meant no water because the pipes would freeze. I picked up knitting just so I could keep my hands occupied to keep them warm. I remember praying for the night to come so I could just sleep.” Christine lived in a world without being able to turn on a light, turn up the heat, or run a warm bath to take just a momentary pause from the oppressive Maine winter in late 2010 early 2011, which was miserably cold and buried in snowfall after snowfall. Sometimes she didn’t even know if she would have food to eat. It’s difficult to even conceive of. These small luxuries which are now so commonplace and essential were gone.

Before Alfred she lived in New Hampshire, and at one point lived in the Women’s Shelter in Portsmouth, NH which is inhabited mostly by women who are victims of abuse. Avesta’s records show her as being on a waiting list since 2008, nearly 4 years before placement, bouncing from residence to residence throughout southern Maine and New Hampshire. “Through it all I put my faith in Yahweh, who I believe to be the creator. My faith has helped me through the worst times, and has helped me to appreciate the good,” Christine reflects.

“Christine’s name stayed on our list a long time, and it started to rise further and further to the top,” says Kathy Moon who works for Avesta. “I kept noticing it and there were a few properties where she was very close. Finally the day came and I called her right away to ask her if she would want to look at an apartment in Prescott Heights.” This was in the winter of
2012, just a few months ago. Christine came to visit the giant, pink house in North Berwick adorned with beautiful Victorian architecture. Christine describes what that visit meant to her: “When I saw the apartment for the first time, it had a stove and oven, closet space, a small kitchen, heat, a bathroom; I couldn’t believe it. I remember asking ‘All this can really be mine?’”

She accepted the apartment immediately and though she couldn’t move her furniture from her trailer into her new home because of black mold, she brought the only two things she owned, her television set, and her cat, Gizzy. “When I moved in for the first time, I realized I had a place to call home. Some people might look at this and say this is just a room, but to me it’s a palace.”

She put her television in the corner, sat down on the floor of her unfurnished apartment, and started to cry, overwhelmed by joy. She held her cat close and said “Gizzy, you don’t have to be cold anymore.”

Read Part II of this interview



Developers transform abandoned schools into affordable housingJun 26, 2012

Old schools were built in prime locations in or near downtowns so children could easily walk to school. That concept still applies today, allowing seniors and other residents to walk to stores and services, says Dana Totman, president of Avesta Housing in Portland, Maine. The nonprofit is adapting two schools into affordable housing this year to add to the four it has completed.

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Matt Dunham: The Charisma of Pearl PlaceJun 26, 2012

“Please take off your shoes,” Matt Dunham asks of all his visitors upon entering his apartment at Pearl Place in the Bayside neighborhood of Portland. He's lived in his apartment for 3 years now, and it took him a while to find the right fit. As with any young adult in today’s economy, Matt has tried a variety of living situations since graduating from the Berkshire Hills Music Academy. He spent a year in congregate living, but found it difficult to share his personal space with people who had differing lifestyles. He spent a year at the YMCA as well, but when Pearl Place opened its doors in July of 2008, Matt jumped at the opportunity to move in right away.

“I love the open space and natural light that the large windows allow in,” says Sandi, Matt’s mom. She and Matt are in a steel drum band together. Matt’s career as a student at the Berkshire Music Academy developed his passion for music, and it’s a huge part of his life to this day. “My mom is musical; when we play together I call it music history!” Other members of their steel drum band testify that Matt’s enthusiasm is infectious and that he even plays the kit on a few of their steel drum songs.

Beyond their steel drum band, Matt and Sandi attend concerts frequently. “Concerts are a passion of ours,” Sandi explains. “Recently we saw ‘Swan Lake’. It’s very important for both of us to experience culture like that.” On top of that, Matt enjoys going to Bull Moose to add to his impressive CD and DVD collection, and has a book shelf full of entertainment, video game, and music (mostly heavy metal) magazines that he reads avidly.

Matt’s living location is ideal for his lifestyle. He works at Whole Foods and recently has started helping the chefs doing a lot of prep work for them. When asked what his favorite thing was to cook, Matt thought hard and eventually said “I can’t choose. Can you just write that?” He has many friends at work, and is clearly close with many of them as he recounts stories fondly about his coworkers, some of whom live right at Pearl Place with Matt.

Along with walking to work, he can also walk to his day program where he does a lot of activities such as swimming and hiking. He enjoys racquetball and basketball, and though he dislikes lifting weights (who doesn’t?), he understands the importance of staying active and works with a personal trainer to help keep himself healthy.

Matt has a great sense of community and service. When he first moved to Pearl Place he was on the tenant’s council helping them create facility-wide safety plans. He also continues to volunteer for the Red Cross. In every avenue Matt chooses to pursue, what stands out most about the way he tells his story is his connection to people, whether it’s his coworkers, friends, or family. At one point he brings up his younger sister and her boyfriend (who Matt predicts will one day get married). “Do you get along with your sister?” I ask. Matt nods emphatically. “We’re best friends. One time we went down to Florida with no parents. We went to the water park, the beach, to mini-golf, and the naval museum. “

In the context of such a busy life, balancing work, exercise, music, service, and recreation, what kind of role does his apartment play? “I feel safe.” Matt turns to his mom and says “You don’t have to worry about me so much here.” Sandi agrees with her son. “We know Matt is in a place that’s nice, where he feels comfortable. Avesta has been responsive to maintenence calls, and the building is secure. He’s happy, so we’re happy.” Matt will likely never experience total independence, but with the right balance, he has found a place where he can gauge how much freedom and how much support he needs to lead a productive, contributing lifestyle. With someone as engaged and engaging as Matt, it’s good to know he has that solid base from which to jump off into the world and go out and explore.

Matthew Dunham
Resident, Pearl Place



First Residents Move into Cascade BrookJun 20, 2012

The Schaffers enjoy the "quiet and seclusion" of Cascade Brook and love their 2 bedroom apartment.

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Little Falls Landing's Independent CoupleJun 15, 2012

“I’m as crazy about her now as I was then,” Ken blurts out as his wife, Polly, describes the circumstances in which the two met. Polly’s aunt worked at a dry cleaning facility, and asked her one day “Would you like to meet a cute boy?” That cute boy was Ken, a Korean War veteran who drove a truck transporting the clothes for the dry cleaning facility. A few days after Polly told her aunt that she’d be interested in meeting him, Ken called her to
ask her out, and later that year, when he was 26 and she was just 19, the two were married. Their 50-year anniversary has long since come and gone.

After marriage, Ken and Polly’s lives were dedicated to raising their 5 children. Ken continued to drive truck, and Polly stayed at home and later became a nurse’s aide to help pay the bills. After retirement, they tried various living arrangements. While living on their own in a trailer, Polly felt an acute pain in her chest in the middle of the night. She
waited to see if the pain would go away, but at 3am she called her daughter. Upon arriving at the ER their daughter cried “I need two wheelchairs! My dad can’t walk, and my mom’s having a heart attack!” Both Polly and Ken laugh about the night now, but they remember the fear that struck them that day.

The incident prompted them to try living with their daughter, but lifestyles clashed and they applied for affordable housing at Avesta’s Little Falls Landing in Windham.  Three months later they moved in. With their new security, Ken and Polly took up square dancing at a few local churches. They took lessons, and Polly even made her own skirts and Ken’s ties for the dances.


Taking advantage of the wonderful comunity space Little Falls Landing offers, last year they were able to host a Christmas gathering for their entire family.  It brougt presents, food and holiday cheer.  Most importantly though, Ken and Polly’s new home provides them with the comfort they both need to take care of each other. Once a nurse’s aide, now Polly nurses Ken. She makes his meals, and administers his medication, and helps him stay healthy as he has now gone 25 years without a drink and 15 without a cigarette. Ken enlivens the room with self-deprecating humor, and never misses a moment to tell anyone who will listen how lucky he is to have such a lovely, giving wife. Their apartment overlooks the water, and Ken shows off his impressive movie collection. Before the interview is over, we ask Polly and Ken if there’s anything else they would want people to know about their lives. Polly shrugs. “We stay very close with our children. They visit us and they take us out. We don’t need other people to take care of us, not yet anyway. We’re able to take care of each other, and that’s what feels right to us.”

Ken and Polly Conant
Residents, Little Falls Landing



Norway Savings Bank Provides Financial Support to Avesta for Home Buyer Education ProgramJun 8, 2012

"Our partnership with Norway Savings Bank allows us to provide services that are vital for sustaining homeownership," said Dana Totman, President of Avesta Housing. "Services that until now were not widely available outside the city of Portland." More...

New Managers Join Property Management TeamJun 5, 2012

For four decades, Avesta Housing has worked to stand out from other organizations with a visionary approach and high standards for our housing and interactions with the community. In our continued effort to provide superior support to our residents and Southern Mainers in need, Avesta is proud to announce two new additions to our Property Management team. More...

Marie LaBrecque: Golden Park's SisterJun 1, 2012

“I was raised by nuns,” explains Marie Labrecque of her childhood. “My father was very sick when I was a little girl, and my mother worked. She did not want me to be home alone with my brothers so she sent me to catholic school when I was very young.”  At the age of twelve, Marie’s mother moved the family to Biddeford and Marie began working at the Stella Maris Convent helping the nuns teach younger children. “It was something I enjoyed very much.” Marie remained with the convent after finishing school herself. “For a long time I thought I wanted to become a nun,” she remembers.  Just before her final vows though, she changed her mind.

“I hadn’t done anything in the real world before.” After spending the majority of her life devoting herself to the Catholic Church (she would remain deeply involved with the church her entire life), Marie decided she would venture into the secular world, a world she hardly knew. She rented a room in a doctor’s office and lived on her own for the first time. In her mid-twenties, Marie met Raymond, the brother of one of her friends. “At first he didn’t mean a thing to me,” Marie smiles when she remembers the man who would one day become her husband and then laughs. “But everybody loves Raymond.” Raymond was too scared to ask Marie out on a date, so he begged his sister to ask Marie to join various family functions in hopes that he might get the chance to speak with her. Eventually the two fell in love, married, and had their first of four children (and their only daughter) less than a year later.

Raymond told Marie when their daughter was born that she no longer had to work. He would work up to three jobs if they needed in order for her to stay home and raise their children. For a long time Raymond had to do just that. “Raymond was a worker. He was very shy, he didn’t talk too much, but he was proud in his work.” It wasn’t until their fourth son was in high school that Marie began working again. She worked on call overnights at a jail, served court papers, and drove a bus as well. Though they never owned a home, Marie and Raymond found a way to put their children through the Catholic school system they revered so highly.

Early in 1978 Marie returned from the grocery store in a hurry to make her shift driving a bus. The road to her home was blocked, a truck had crashed and the officer at the road block told her it was a severe crash that the driver was not expected to survive. “I was allowed down the road after I told him I was just returning groceries to my house. I had all of our license plate numbers memorized, and when I drove past I knew it was Raymond in the accident.” Raymond had fallen asleep on his way back home from one of his jobs; the strain of overworking had taken its toll. “We were friends with the officer closest to the crash. I asked him if Raymond would live, he said ‘Marie, Raymond is a fighter. He will be okay.’” Raymond did survive that crash but suffered many burns.

Very soon after Raymond’s accident Marie slipped and fell on a patch of ice while working her job serving papers. Both she and Raymond were unable to work until the following September. “Whatever small amount of money we had was gone,” Marie says. Raymond was never able to work the same way again. His body would be in constant pain for the rest of his life.

Still Marie and Raymond found a way to make ends meet and remain in Biddeford for the next 12 years. They worked, and with all their spare time they volunteered at their church. Raymond would paint or fix things for no charge at all “That’s the type of guy he was. If there was something that needed to be fixed, he would go and fix it, most of the time for free,”  Marie says.

Then Raymond was diagnosed with cancer. “I told him we have to apply for subsidized housing.  I knew it hurt his pride, but he couldn’t work anymore and we didn’t have any money. We simply couldn’t stay.” So Marie and Raymond applied to Avesta in 1990 and received housing very soon after at the Golden Park Village apartments. In their new life  Marie took care of Raymond, bringing him to his treatments and helping him around the house.

Even still Marie found great ways to become involved with the community at Golden Park Village. She and a few friends created the “Sunshine Club”, a group that would meet once a month and celebrate holidays or a resident’s birthday with a festive meal (which Marie often purchased the ingredients for herself) and social interaction. She and Raymond had many friends within Golden Park Village.

In 2009 Raymond passed away. “He was in so much pain.” Marie says. “He was a very sick man. It’s a part of life.” Marie’s eyes are incredibly alert. She remains stoic but her memories of him are so vivid it is clear she thinks of him all the time. She tells the story of her life with Raymond as though she was remembering something that had happened to her earlier the same day, yet somehow she remains active in this new stage of her life. She still has friends living in Golden Park with whom she socializes, and she remains an avid Red Sox and Patriots fan. To this day Marie will still drive the other residents to the store, pharmacy, or any doctor’s appointments they might need a ride to. “I tell them if there’s ever anything I can do for them or any way I can help them, please, let me know! I love helping people. It’s just what I naturally love to do.”

Marie LaBrecque
Resident, Golden Park



Grand Opening of Avesta Housing's Oak Street Lofts Set for FridayMay 31, 2012

Mayor Michael Brennan, Maine Chamber of Commerce President Dana Connors and other local and state officials will join Avesta Housing on Friday for the grand opening of the Oak Street Lofts, Avesta’s newest development of 37 energy efficient, affordable homes. More...

Florence House: The Lost, the Found, a Family, and a Simple IdeaMay 25, 2012

**The following is based on my visit to Florence House in which I met with three of its residents who told me their stories. They explained what led them to homelessness, and what led them finally to Florence House. Please note that many of the residents in Florence House have reason to have their identity protected, and as such they will not be photographed, their full names will not be given, and no physical descriptions will be used.**

Part 3

Every December Avesta’s board of directors holds a holiday buffet breakfast at a local restaurant for their final meeting of the year. However in 2011, Neal Allen, who chairs the board, had a very good idea. “I simply suggested to Lori (Doustou, Avesta’s director of administration) that we hold the breakfast for the residents in one of the properties that we developed,” he recalls. “After that Lori took care of everything.” The board and staff decided to serve the breakfast at Florence house, a property that was finished in April 2010 and is run by Preble Street Shelter.  “Without any hesitation, board and staff of Avesta embraced the opportunity,” said Lori. Early one morning, they arrived and worked with the kitchen staff to prepare a meal and meet the people they work to provide housing for, many of whom they had never met before. Neal Allen and his board were about to discover how much his simple suggestion would mean to everyone involved.

“There was eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, juice, hash browns, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and even eggnog” Donna A. remembers. “Normally we have a cold breakfast with cereal and yogurt, which is nice, but this made us feel really special.”

“I went home for Thanksgiving and I’m not ever going back there again,” explains Jo-Ann. “My family was high and fighting about drugs the whole time, and I don’t do drugs unless they’re prescribed to me.” By the end of her stay with her family, Jo-Ann had been verbally abused, embarrassed and humiliated when a family member threw the Thanksgiving turkey at her head. She decided to stay at Florence House for Christmas. “That morning, the women were so respectful of the (volunteers serving breakfast). There were about 60 women who ate, and we all had Christmas table-cloths, place mats, and flowers at the center of every table. It made me feel like I was eating with a real family, and that it was my real family.” Jo-Ann smiles, but buries her face into her hands as she begins to cry. Her friends pass her a box of tissues.

Donna G., finishes Jo-Ann’s thought. “We were treated like queens. No one was looking down on us, we were equals.”

“I made a card. No one asked me to, I just wanted to show them how much this meant to us. I walked around to each girl and had them sign it. I gave it to (Lori and Dana Totman). They had a shocked look on their face,” remembers Donna A.

“It was (that moment) we knew we had made a difference,” says Lori who acknowledges that the women’s gracious thanks was equally rewarding and emotional for both parties.

“Hopefully we can continue to do more events like this in the future,” reflects Neal Allen. “This is a good example of Avesta at its very best, connecting with the people we serve.”



Avesta Housing Announces Hire for New Home Ownership CenterMay 25, 2012

"Successful, sustainable homeownership begins with educated consumers who have the tools, capacity and options to make good choices when it comes to buying a home, obtaining a mortgage and maintaining their homes," said Stolt. More...

Florence House: The Lost, the Found, a Family, and a Simple IdeaMay 22, 2012

Part 2

Five minutes later, I was allowed access into Florence House and toured the building with its coordinator, Patty Robinson. It is an impressive structure with excellent security and wide open spaces. The cafeteria offers beautiful indoor/outdoor seating with a nice view and many of the residents remark on how much they love being close to nature. Every day the linen is washed from every last bed, and if a woman has stayed at Florence house on a bed downstairs the night before, she is guaranteed shelter the following night providing she shows up in time to claim it. Within 3 months of its completion back in 2010, Florence House already experienced such heavy traffic they had to create a separate overflow room to keep up with it.

Upstairs there are 25 permanent apartments. The women living in these apartments qualify after being homeless for one full year, or having four or more cases of homelessness over a three year span (these are the criteria to qualify as “chronically homeless” as defined by HUD). There are also semi-private spaces, called “Safe Havens” which may work as a transitional platform into permanent housing, but there is no limit to the length in which a woman can stay. “It is important to have the Safe Havens because unlike the apartments, residents do not need to sign a lease. Some of the women are not ready to make a commitment like that but still need housing,” says Patty Robinson. Like Logan Place, Avesta implemented “Housing first” at Florence House, a philosophy that advocates housing as a universal human right, and each resident’s rent is adjusted accordingly to ensure they are securely housed. I was able to meet three of these residents.

Donna A.

“Before I was homeless I didn’t care about people begging for money on the street. I didn’t think about what was going on with them. I looked down on them. Going to a shelter was the best day of my life. It transformed me from the inside out,” confides Donna A., a resident living upstairs in an apartment at Florence House. “Before, when my boyfriend got out of jail we moved in together in an apartment. Then we got evicted, then we got an apartment, then we got evicted, then we got an apartment, then we got evicted again. We knew we couldn’t afford to live anywhere. We had to put our dog down and put all our stuff in storage in one afternoon before we were evicted. When I got back he had gone to live at the YMCA and didn’t really seem to care what happened to me.

“When I went to the shelter for the first time, I kept thinking ‘I can’t live here!’ There were 72 girls on army cots an inch apart from each other. I couldn’t get any sleep. But I’m a fighter. The way I see it, you don’t look back, and I stayed there a year and 8 months collecting bottles, making about $35 a day.”

By the time Florence House was nearing completion, Donna A. was 3rd on the list to receive an apartment. “Coming here, I had to learn how to live on my own. At first there was tension between the girls upstairs and the girls downstairs. It was hard to socialize. Now it’s better. When I got my voucher, I gave it up to stay here. People kept asking me ‘are you crazy?’ But I have everything I want here. If I need food it’s downstairs. If I need to talk to someone, they got staff ready to talk 24 hours. If I need help with something, I got my caseworker right here. I’m independent now, for the first time in my life. My boyfriend can visit, but if I don’t want to see him, I just tell the office and I don’t have to. Why would I want to live anywhere else?”

Jo-Ann

“I sold everything I had to get my sister and niece out of jail,” explains Jo-Ann as she remembers what led her to a shelter. “I came from a destructive family, they told me they would pay me back, but they didn’t. I did a lot of volunteer work at Preble St. in the kitchen when I was in the shelter, and even after I moved into some apartment buildings. One of the houses I moved to had drug problems, stabbings, and a girl hanged herself. I couldn’t cope with the stress. I’ve got mental illness, and that was a bad place for me to be.” Jo-Ann shifts position frequently as she is in a lot of pain from various physical complications.

“Sorry, I’m an obnoxious woman, and I tell it like it is,” Jo-Ann says with a smile and looks to her friends for affirmation. They nod emphatically. “But we support each other here, because no one can know what I been through like my friends here do. Most people haven’t seen what we’ve seen. What a miracle the day I moved in here! I was so happy.” She grabs some tissues. “Any of us will tell you what it felt like the first time when you walk into the door and you look and see all the room and the bed and you think ‘this (apartment) is all mine?’ It’s unbelievable.”

Donna G.

“I was living with my boyfriend and his friend, and one day he just left,” says Donna G. a resident hopeful who stays downstairs, but is in the process of completing her paperwork to move into her very own apartment.

“At first I associated with nobody. I was homeless, had no health care, and I had a stroke and had to go to the emergency room. Then Florence House helped me get on a path where I could receive insurance. I haven’t been to the emergency room since. Everyone should be covered. People without coverage can’t get checked up until they have to go to the emergency room, less coverage means more people go to the ER, more people go to the ER means the tax payer pays, lower class tax payers won’t be able to keep up which will increase foreclosures, more people become homeless, more people can’t get health care, more people need the ER. It’s all connected. When you live in these settings, you start to see how it works. Everything affects everything else.”

After receiving help from some of the staff at Florence House, Donna G. both them and her role in Florence house differently. “I started to talk to other clients who were getting angry when the staff couldn’t help them right away. There’s 60 of us sometimes and maybe only 4 of them.” This has allowed Donna G. to connect with more staff. “They’re so helpful with everything. They’re like aunts and uncles. They always look out for us, even though some of us have trouble understanding. That’s my part; I have to learn to trust. But I’m getting better at that, and I even got to speak at the state senate. It’s funny, all my life people told me that I was nothing and my voice wouldn’t matter, but now I help people living at Florence House and I was able to find my voice. When I spoke for the state senate or on TV, I spoke for them.

Donna A., Donna G., Jo-Ann
Residents, Florence House



Florence House: The Lost, the Found, a Family, and a Simple IdeaMay 18, 2012

**The following is based on my visit to Florence House in which I met with three of its residents who told me their stories. They explained what led them to homelessness, and what led them finally to Florence House. Please note that many of the residents in Florence House have reason to have their identity protected, and as such they will not be photographed, their full names will not be given, and no physical descriptions will be used.**

Part 1

On an unusually warm, sunny day in early March, I sat outside Florence House (Avesta’s shared property with Preble Street. Shelter that serves women who may be victims of domestic abuse or homelessness). Early for an appointment to meet a few of its residents and take a tour, I sat speaking on the phone with a friend, complaining about something extremely unimportant..  A young woman walked past me pushing her son in a stroller. She was over-dressed for the weather, as was her son, and she looked bewildered and terrified. She walked a little closer and stopped, looked at me, opened her mouth slightly, her lips trembling, her eyes welling. Then she must have decided she didn’t wish to disturb me on the phone and continued down the sidewalk. I told my friend I would call him back and hung up the phone.

“Excuse me,” I called after her. “Can I help you?” Her voice shook, teetering on the edge of something desperate and deep.

“I’m in Portland, right?” She asked quietly.

“Yes. This is Portland. Do you need directions?”

“I moved to Maine two weeks ago, to Gorham with my boyfriend from North Carolina,” she explained, and her accent confirmed this to be true.  “He just dropped off me and my s…” her voice stopped suddenly, she hunched over the stroller for support and began to cry. Her son looked up at her solemnly, her face so close to his, but did not cry himself. “…he just dropped off me and our son here. He told me to never call him again and then he just left.” She paused and then cried “Bastard!” She wiped her eyes and nose, her lips continued to quiver involuntarily and she inhaled quick, erratic breaths, but seemed more collected.

“Oh my God,” I sympathized. “Have you tried there?” I asked pointing to Florence House, ignorant at the time to the fact that women with children cannot stay there. Her face grew eerily pale. She nodded that she had been inside, then turned away from me and continued walking towards Congress Street without saying another word.

At the time, I stood there watching her walk away in complete shock. I wish I had known to direct her to Chestnut St. Family Shelter, I wish I could have given her cab fare, or better yet, two plane tickets back to North Carolina, away from this confusing, rabbit-hole in which she now found herself. Away to a land where I imagined she had family and a support system. But I didn’t and I couldn’t. So instead I stood paralyzed as she drifted, frightened and displaced. I’ll always regret that I hadn’t been more resourceful in the moment, and I’ll never understand why I didn’t think of some way to offer any small kindness to a mother and son who needed it so dearly, but maybe I couldn’t move or speak because I couldn’t fully cope with the fact that I had just met the two newest residents of Portland, Maine and there was absolutely nothing I could do to truly help them as I watched them near the end of the block and enter their new lives among Portland’s homeless.



Russell Healy: Softspoken Soldier, Avid ArtistMay 7, 2012

At Avesta’s community on Brook Hollow Dr. in Naples, one apartment sits ornamented by whirligigs (wooden ornaments designed to spin with the wind.), expertly crafted by the apartment’s resident, Russell Healy. Russell’s whirligigs have even landed him a featured article in the Bridgton News when he donated many of his works to a local charity auction. Though his voice is soft and gravelly, and his demeanor is somewhat timid, Russell’s story unravels intricately. As he speaks, certain things he talks about trigger him to leave his seat and retrieve relics and items he references.

Like any artist, his living space feels somewhat disorganized and chaotic until one takes the time to understand it. Over in the corner by the door rest three Betty Boop whirligigs, each in a different pose designed to create a unique movement. Across the room, next to the wall decorated with handmade birds and butterflies, rests Russell’s arm chair (most of his furniture has either been donated or was discarded by someone else; a true sign of the frugal New Englander) and a catalogue with several different ideas for art subjects. He makes his art in a shed where he keeps the majority of his woodworking supplies and tools.

Before Russell moved back to Maine, he and his wife, Mary, were living in Florida. They had spent a life together moving from New Hampshire, down to Massachusetts, and then up to Maine working on farms, mills, for painting companies, and owning land. Each move represented a sacrifice either Russell or Mary had made for the other in order to provide for their collective happiness. When Mary didn’t like the farm, they moved to Massachusetts, when Russell grew weary of the mill and city, they moved again, and so on. In that time Russell had run the farm, worked at the mill, been offered to run a painting company, and signed the deed of his last remaining property over to a friend, who had become like a son to him.

Their long trip took Russell and Mary to western Maine in Hiram until they saved enough to retire to Florida. Like so many others among them, they found a new home in the warm weather and senior-residence communities. Russell still looks back on that time with great fondness and misses the friends made while living there. Eventually Mary’s dementia
became more severe and she began to wander off in moments of confusion. Knowing that he could no longer care for Mary, Russell moved them back to Maine where they could live together and Mary would be provided the assisted care she needed. Russell knew Mary’s time was coming soon and that he would need a new place to to call home. A family friend helped him apply for affordable housing.

As Russell shows us around his apartment, it’s clear that he can do most everything he needs to take care of himself. He has corned beef cooking in the crock-pot, which he plans to share with a few of his neighbors, and he has a medical station where he takes all of his own vitals and can send them to the Togus V.A. hospital in Augusta, Maine. “I have to go up there to do my dialysis for my kidneys,” he informs us. One might suggest that a person who takes control of their own medical care and lives in affordable housing like Russell actually saves the state and tax payers a great deal of money on costs that might otherwise be spent on more expensive assisted living facilities. Of course for some there are no other options, but Russell takes great pride in his independence and his contributions to those things bigger than any one person.

Along with his proactive self-care and artistic donations to charity, Russell’s service in the armed forces during WWII is quite remarkable. He served for four years in Germany and France as part of the U.S.A’s 82nd Airborne, fighting Nazis. He doesn’t go into too much detail about his time in Europe, but he beams as he shows off a custom made baseball cap with the
lettering “82nd Airborne” on the side and an old photograph where he stands a young man in uniform with his wife. This attitude of contribution and pride in playing a small part in something greater than any one person is perhaps somewhat lost on younger generations, but it translates into personal relationships too. Russell has no lack of friends. His closest neighbor views him as a father figure and seeks to protect him from anyone who may try to take advantage. He started eating at the Bridgton Diner and has made friends with the proprietors. “I like to get along with everybody. I don’t like confrontation,” he says.

Russell is a special kind of person. He’s seen so much, and adapted to so many situations, one might expect him to have developed a cynical, protective shell. But this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead he remains genuine, dedicated to his passions and the people he is close to, and maintains a fond relationship with his past. What makes him great is not immediately apparent, but rather it reveals itself in layers, and each new anecdote unveils complexities, profound experiences, and new hopes.

Russell Healy
Resident, Brook Hollow



Doris Osgood and Phyllis Shaw: Sisters at Wayside PinesApr 23, 2012

Doris Osgood and Phyllis Shaw are sisters from the Libby family in Bridgton. At a young age they worked with their mother doing laundry for the summer camps in western Maine. “Washing clothes is the only thing we know how to do,” they chuckle. At 18 they graduated from Bridgton High in a class of less than 50 students and almost none of them were male. “That’s because most of the boys enlisted before graduation.” When WWII ended, the men came back and Doris and Phyllis both met their respective husbands shortly after. Their weddings were only a few months apart. “I met John at the legion hall dance. They had one every Friday night where the new community center is now,” recalls Doris.

While Doris moved one town over to Denmark with her husband to work at the Cardinal Printing Shop, Phyllis remained in Sandy Creek and worked at the Red and White Grocery (which is now the large Reny’s on the main drag). This would be the farthest distance they would ever live apart from each other as they raised families and spent roughly half a century with their husbands and children.

Their lives mirrored each other yet again when both their husbands passed away within a year of each other, leaving Doris alone in the home she and her husband owned and Phyllis alone in Sandy Creek in her trailer. In their 70’s at the time, the Libby sisters applied for subsidized housing. Thinking back on that time Doris lists all the maintenance her house needed, and how little of it she could do herself. “I couldn’t maintain the upkeep. My son told me after I moved here it was the best move I ever made.”

While Doris only had to wait one year for her apartment (which she moved into in 2000), Phyllis spent three years on her own in her trailer before she was able to move in 2002. Now the two sisters live across the courtyard from each other at Wayside Pines in the very same town they were born and have found a welcoming home.  Barbara, whose story was told and posted a few weeks back, is Doris’s best friend. They visit each other daily and are avid advocates for their community’s wellbeing; communicating with their resident service coordinator frequently to ensure that Wayside Pines remains safe and continues to serve its residents.

Doris Osgood and Phyllis Libby
Residents, Wayside Pines



Janet St. PeterApr 10, 2012

Janet St. Peter received SSI long-term federal disability when she was 43-years-old, though she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy from the day she was born way up by I-95’s final stop in Houlton. As an adult she found herself best suited for factory work in southern Maine. Through hard work Janet raised her son, James, bought a house, and even worked in management positions, but people’s ignorance of her physical disability caused her stress
and pain. “When I told people that I had cerebral palsy they would respond ‘but you don’t look retarded.’” Of course this common misconception is far from the truth of what CP is.

“It is brain damage from birth,” Janet explains to us. “I have a lot of trouble walking. I can’t do stairs. I can’t even get off a curb, my balance is so shaky.” This brain damage Janet refers to is of the cerebrum which controls our motor skills and actions like speech, not to be confused with the person’s ability for complex thought. While Janet’s speech is slightly
slurred and slowed, every other attribute in the way she communicates is fully functional. Still people’s misconceptions caused them to treat Janet inhumanely. “My coworkers didn’t accept me. I was an outsider. Some workers refused to work with me as their superior.”

The stress of dealing with her disability’s increasing physical limitations, and the intolerance of her coworkers took its toll. “I had to go to the hospital,” Janet tells us. “It’s been my home away from home.” She applied for disability and was forced to stop working. “My body just
couldn’t do it anymore.”

Even with the disability, she could no longer afford her Gorham house on rt. 202, and with her son unable to help, she decided to sell it in 2003. “It was on the market only 9 days before it sold,” Janet remembers. “Three months later the market crashed.” Fortuitous, considering she had absolutely no other options at her disposal. From there Janet applied for housing and waited 2 years before she received it. “I was living in a room in someone’s home. I shared a bathroom and had no kitchen. It was hairy there for a while.”

Then Janet was offered a unit in Avesta’s Unity Gardens in Windham. She lives on the first floor with easy access to her apartment. “I don’t know where I would be without housing. This is a safe environment,” Janet says. “Eventually I know I’ll be in a wheelchair. There’s no question.” Janet is knowledgeable and prepared for her likely prognosis. She goes into Portland once a month for her doctor’s appointments, for which she has to pay $50
dollars for transportation. “Other than that, I stay right here. And that’s the way I like it.” She has hard days, but Janet also has two important passions that continue to keep her happy.

“I read my bible to study for meetings.” A Jehovah’s Witness, Janet’s faith is devout. Her apartment is very plain with almost no photographs or decorations of any kind. She believes in spreading the word, and if she feels up to it, she loves to attend meetings.

Janet’s greatest love and best friend, her grandson James, comes to stay with her every Friday. “I fix supper (for my son and grandson), watch James ride his bike, play ball with him.” The three of them watch movies and Janet tries to answer James’s tough questions. “One day he came home and told me a girl at school said ‘God is dead,’” Janet chuckles. “James was very angry about that. But he’s so smart. I am very careful about what I say to him because his mother doesn’t want me to influence (him religiously) too much.”

Janet’s life is limited by her disability. There is no doubt that she would like to be able enough to be James’s primary guardian, but like so many others with disabilities, Janet has learned to make the best life possible for herself. She doesn’t consider herself brave, or inspirational, and to describe her as such might be a disservice to who she really is. Janet is a woman who has been given a chance. Her goals and passions are modest and noble. Right now we face a political climate that threatens the same goals and passions that so many others with disabilities hold. She is not so much a hero as she is a reminder that people like her live among us, and to view them in ignorance and neglect their basic human rights (especially their right to the pursuit of happiness) is at the very best irresponsible, and is the exact opposite of what makes the state of Maine such an amazing place to call home.

Janet St. Peter
Resident, Unity Gardens



Dana Totman graduates from NeighborWorks® Achieving Excellence in Community Development ProgramApr 4, 2012

 “The opportunity to participate in this program as CEO of Avesta Housing was extremely helpful. It provided numerous tools and regular coaching as I worked to forge new approaches,” said Totman. More...

Edith Libby: A Century in ReviewApr 2, 2012

“I turned 101 this March,” says Edith Libby, a resident of New Marblehead Manor’s phase III development who has lived there since its completion in 1989. It’s a remarkable statement to make. So much ties into the time that passed. “My relatives are all gone. I’m kind of alone,” she reflects without a hint of sadness. Throughout her life, Edith has outlived siblings, friends, a husband, and a son. Her perseverance is nurtured by her strong independence.

There have been many points in Edith’s life where she needed to do things on her own; she left home right out of high school and took the train to New Jersey to take care of her ailing aunt. When she returned to Maine, much to the dismay of her mother, she remained in Portland (taking a room at the YMCA where she worked as a housekeeper) instead of returning to her hometown, Rumford. “I knew if I went back I’d never get out. I was too ambitious for that,” Edith explains.

It was in Portland that Edith worked her way through the Great Depression. “No one had any money. I remember living on crackers and marshmallow, but a lot of what I learned going through the depression helped me in my senior years.”

One night at a friend’s party, Edith met Stanley. He asked her to leave the party with him to go to a boxing match. Edith reflects, “I said no, I didn’t want to see that stuff. But then two weeks later, I went with him to a different boxing match, by then his fiancé and we’ve been boxing ever since.”

Stanley worked at a local shoe factory while Edith raised their only son. “When Stanley came home one night and said he got a raise to $8,000 a year, we thought we had it made,” Edith says. This was not to last as Stanley suffered a head injury while working. Luckily their son was old enough that Edith could go work at the local IGA. Edith balanced work and taking care of Stanley until he passed away in 1968.  She worked 5 years after that until she was 62, living in Windham in a mobile home.

“I’ve spent the rest of my life knitting,” Edith explains. She knit professionally to help pay her bills in her mobile home for nearly 20 years, but eventually she had to move. “I couldn’t go on that way. It was too expensive.” She heard of the new Avesta development which was underway just up the road from her house, and she applied for affordable housing. When phase III opened up at New Marblehead Manor, Edith was the first resident to move in. “Avesta has been good to me. I’m comfortable, and I feel as though I’m living better than I ever have. My biggest fear is that I will have to live in a nursing home. I can’t imagine being boxed into one room.”

Certainly at this point there are no indications that Edith will need to move anywhere. She is quite mobile and lucid even as she’s entered the triple digits. And at the end of our time meeting with Edith, we notice two awards framed in the far corner of the living room. Without prompting Edith may never have told us that she has won two Governor’s Service Awards for her donations through The Friendship Club, a group that donates beautifully hand-knit clothing to newborns and patients undergoing chemotherapy at Mercy Hospital. Edith directs us to a large burrow in a side room that is completely filled with hats, pajamas, pants, shirts, and winter-wear. Her productivity is prolific for someone in their prime. At her age it is simply astounding.

While many are in a position to be charitable, often aid comes not from the wealthy or those who could easily afford it, but from those who coexist with the needy. Edith Libby lived a blue collar life through the Depression to this very day. She learned to live simply enough so that now she can take one of the many troubles off the minds of others; something she may have needed when she fell sick or when she was a struggling, new mother so many years ago.

Edith Libby
Resident, New Marblehead Manor



Avesta Welcomes New StaffMar 28, 2012

Avesta Housing is an agency on the forefront of the affordable housing market. For the past forty years, Avesta has made a name for itself providing opportunities to Mainers in need. As we continue to move forward, we are pleased to announce several new hires who will join Avesta in promoting and providing housing opportunities primarily for Southern Maine people in need. More...

Ben Walter: Working For a NeedMar 23, 2012

Ben Walter of CWS Architects has worked extensively with Avesta over the years including some of its most recent developments such as Logan Place, and Oak St. Lofts. He speaks with us today to talk about his experiences working as an architect in the nonprofit world.

Tyler DeVos: What is the process like designing a building with Avesta?

Ben Walter: Usually Avesta has an idea for a development; we brainstorm with them how best to carry it out. It's a very interactive process from day one. For example with Oak St. Lofts, Avesta's development team came to me with the idea of providing housing for artists. If you think about it, this city is full of young artists working other jobs at restaurants or coffee shops as cooks or wait staff. This is a large part of Portland's population. And the reason they're holding these jobs is that they want to make their art at the same time. So in planning the building with our target demographic being young artists, every decision about every detail was based on how best to serve that type of person. There's a lot of natural light in the building, wide open spaces in the individual apartments, a work room and gallery in the building itself.

TD: How is working with a nonprofit different than with a for-profit?

 BW: There are a few important differences and challenges in working with nonprofits. A project that is built for profit draws questions like "What does the market say I can get for rent?" That's the design of for-profit developments. In nonprofit residential development, the developers are asking different questions. They ask questions like "Where is the need?" and "What type of person needs housing in that area?" They are working for populations. Another important difference is advocacy, because the resources are always under scrutiny. It's tempting to look at a nonprofit agency and see only the resources used on a development, but that's misleading. Take Oak St. Lofts again, now there is a concentrated population in the downtown of Portland living independently, who spend their money supporting the community. There is a social value, community value, and an economic value. Nonprofit developments have to convince people of this in each project they attempt to build in order to acquire the resources they need. The other important difference between profit and nonprofit is nonprofit agencies are tied to financing regulations that are more burdensome than a private developer.

TD: In your experience, how has Avesta dealt with abiding by higher restrictions on its developments?

BW: These developments cannot be successful with one resource; this has to be a team effort from all standpoints, including from a financing standpoint. A lot of people look at these developments at a cost-per-unit level, but a building that looks more expensive in Portland may be funded substantially by other sources that support urban living. Avesta has a lot of good minds, and they are always trying to collaborate with other good minds. They're aggressive in how they seek out funding. They're very committed to their mission, investing in quality for their future residents.

Ben Walter 
President, CWS Architects



Avesta Board of Directors Elects OfficersMar 20, 2012

A slate of officers were re-elected at the March 2012 Avesta Board meeting.

More...

The Inn: Community & FriendshipMar 19, 2012

The Inn at Village Square in Gorham is an assisted living facility managed by Avesta. The front lobby is lined with chairs; its residents sit in groups and talk about the activities planned for the day, the last meal they ate, their pasts, and their families. Varying degrees of aid are required from the attentive staff. All of the residents make the final decision to move to assisted living for two equally important reasons. The first can be explained in three words: "I feel safe," explains Agnes Dyke, a resident of nearly two years. "This is a load off for my (two) daughters,” though they are still very involved in her life today. In fact after speaking with Agnes they waited for her just outside in the hallway eager to provide more stories about her "glory days."

In Agnes' case, she had almost no choice in where she could live. Her health deteriorated severely while living at her house in Windham, "I remember being very scared" said Agnes.  After spending months in the hospital with chronic health problems, she miraculously began to recover after her doctors initiated an unorthodox treatment. "They told me it was the last thing they could try." Agnes moves about gingerly, but her involvement in the community at the Inn is quite impressive, explaining the second reason why so many choose to live at the Inn.

"There are different things going on here at all times," testifies Roberta "Bobby" Ryan, "and I have about 30 friends." Before talking with us about her life and experiences, Bobby sat with her friends in the front lobby, and after our conversation she walked right back over and sat in the very same seat where her friends awaited. Like Agnes, her list of activities was long. She loves to play bingo, go bowling, she participates in the exercise program, and enjoys listening to music in their common room which has a piano. Over the holidays, she took a bus tour of the Christmas light decorations in the Old Port. "I don't have any choice in where I live, but I'm content to be here," Bobby says, and Agnes, who also bakes and participates in the nondenominational devotion meetings each morning, echoes Bobby's endorsement. "The nurses here are wonderful, and the food is so good I think about what I'll get to eat next," she says.

So what about the Inn elicits such glowing endorsements? Paul Schreiber, director of the Inn offers his thoughts. “Most Assisted Living facilities only accept private pay residents. Those that do accept MaineCare require their MaineCare residents to share a double occupancy room with two double occupancy rooms sharing a bathroom.  At the Inn at Village Square, with the exception of two rooms that are for ‘couples’, all residents have their own private room with private bath and a ‘tea kitchen’.

“In assisted living facilities that only accept private pay residents (with the exception of a few that have a limited subsidy program) residents must find another place to live when their money runs out.  At the Inn at Village Square, when a resident spends down their financial resources and they qualify for MaineCare, they stay in the same private room.  Nothing really changes and most staff do not even know which residents are MaineCare and which are Private Pay.  Everyone is treated the same.”

**Over 50 percent of the residents at the Inn at Village Square receive Maine Care for Private Non-Medical Institution funding. Around the state of Maine, there are hundreds of people who receive this funding in similar facilities for both physical and mental illnesses.**

Agnes Dyke & Roberta Ryan
Residents, Inn at Village Square



Barbara Avery: Still a ChildMar 12, 2012

Barbara Avery loves being a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. As a mother she loved playing with her children for hours, and at the age of 86, one of her favorite activities is attending her great-grandchildren's baseball games, swim meets, and school plays. What's more, her grandparents lived in Bridgton, and six generations later her family still resides in the same historic town in western Maine. "I have 6 children, 12 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren," she says without needing even a moment to recall the exact numbers. Every wall and flat surface in her house is covered with individually framed photographs. She orders the photographs by generation, and relishes the opportunity to talk about each person in her family as she points to their respective portrait.

Before moving into her apartment at Wayside Pines, she lived on Main St. and rent was getting harder and harder to afford. Luckily one of the units opened up, and in 1988, Barbara was provided a place to live that she could afford, and with that security, Barbara found a community in which she could thrive. "We always visit  and cook each other food," she says referring to other residents of Wayside Pines. Barbara is particularly proud of and keen on sharing her banana bread and chicken with broccoli. Her best friend lives just two units over, however she considers all the residents her friends. "I like to take them shopping because I still have my car and I can still drive." Later as she tells us her story, Barbara reveals her sense of community extends far beyond an occasional car ride.

Barbara’s ex-husband, Bernard, lived in a unit just across the courtyard. Though they divorced many years ago, Barbara tended to him for 3 years when Alzheimer’s rendered him incapable of taking care of himself. "He didn't have anyone, so it was the only thing to do. He wasn’t a bad man or a bad father. He just had a way.” Of course, in reality there was no mandate to care for him, and one wonders was Bernard able to recognize this act of selfless compassion and forgiveness in his final years? Did he understand that this uninhibited gesture of love was always there for him?

Barbara is quick to voice her affection and appreciation of the people she loves. Upon arriving and leaving her apartment, she eagerly hugged and showerd with kisses on the cheek, Wayside Pine's former resident service coordinator, Andrea Sinclair. "I love my life here. I'm so grateful." She pauses. "And I'm crazy!" She nearly shouts, laughs, then proceeds to tell us that last night her son took her to go dancing to country music, that just a few nights ago she sang karaoke, and that in the summertime she still loves to go camping. For a woman who needs a respirator four times a day, she remains impressively active. She lives to love and support those around her. Her nature is inherently to nurture, especially her family. When it is time for us to leave her apartment, Barbara tells Andrea she loves her three times before we even make it to the door!

Barbara Avery
Resident, Wayside Pines



Sharon Cleaves: Avesta’s Original Artist in ResidenceMar 6, 2012

Sharon Cleaves is an artist of incredible productivity. She is so skilled, in fact, that Avesta has commissioned her to decorate three of their properties (Livermore Terrace, Little Falls Landing, and Unity Gardens, where she now resides) completely with her oil paintings. Over 50 of her works are hung in Unity Gardens, a large, two-story, “L” shaped building with an enormous community room. Her work is colorful and ranges in subjects from Maine landscapes to mysterious cowboys, their faces hidden by tan hats.

Creation is something that simply comes naturally to Sharon, who has been painting all her life. She also built her Windham home on Tandberg Trail. “I thought I’d live in that house forever,” she says. It stands to reason as Sharon had always made her own way in the world, she was proud of her accomplishments, and she answered to no one. She owned a diner in Yarmouth and was accustomed to waking up in the wee hours of the morning. She raised two daughters, one who became a commercial pilot, and one who bore her three grandchildren. For a long time Sharon’s life was manageable living on her own in her own house.

Then in 2003 Sharon fell on a patch of ice. She tore her rotator cuff and lost a substantial amount of strength and flexibility in her shoulder. “I struggled for 2 years after that, trying to keep up with the house,” she explains. After the first year, she heard of Unity Gardens’ construction and applied for an apartment just up the street from her own home. “I would come up and peek in the windows when they were building it to size up the measurements of the apartments and plan where I could fit each of my possessions,” she confesses and then giggles. Perhaps this is a testament to how thorough and prepared Sharon learned to be after raising two children, building a house, and running a successful restaurant throughout the course of her life. She meticulously charted out every square inch of her potential living space because she was compelled to ensure that her space would be conducive to her living requirements.  A year later in August of 2005, she was the first resident to move in, a week before anyone else.

Since then Sharon has stayed active within her community. For three years she taught painting lessons, and after a hiatus, she hopes to start them up again upon receiving multiple requests from other residents. She and her friends (whose first-name initials spell out P.A.L.S.) started the “Stitch and Complain” club (although the residents refer to it by a different name which, while clever and easier to remember, is not quite suitable for print). “That was just a bunch of us old hens getting together, clucking about our sore backs, sore feet, kids, the weather, etc. It was fun and a good release.”

Now Sharon has the social life she wants, with the time, space, and privacy she needs to paint. “It was the best decision I could have made. Of course there are things wrong, but that’s the world. There would be more problems if I were back at my home.” Sharon finds herself in a place where she is happy and optimistic in a new chapter of her life. And on the day when Sharon leaves this world, she plans on having her paintings cover the walls wherever her service is, and when it’s over, her final gift to her loved ones will be for them to take a painting of hers off the wall as they leave so that they can have a piece of her forever.

Sharon Cleaves
Resident, Unity Gardens



Maine Affordable Housing Coalition is Honored with the Sustaining Community AwardFeb 29, 2012

"We are very happy to be able to recognize MAHC's work to support affordable housing throughout the state, and to have this opportunity to bring public awareness to this valuable work and the continuing need," said Laura Buxbaum, CEI's Director for Housing Resource and Policy Development. More...

Thoughts on Affordable Housing: Barry Tibbetts, Kennebunk Town Manager and Peter Morelli, city of Saco Planning and Development Director Feb 24, 2012

Barry Tibbetts is the town manager of the town of Kennebunk and Peter Morelli is the Planning and Development Director of the city of Saco, we had a chance to visit with them and hear some of their thoughts on affordable housing. More...

Portland housing developers struggle to meet market needsFeb 21, 2012

"We like doing innovative, niche-type housing," says Totman. "There are too many people living in sub-standard housing or paying too much of their income [for housing]. There is a fundamental mismatch to what our housing supply is to what our population requires." More...

Fred, "Mayor of Meadowview"Feb 15, 2012

Fred Scott is known as the "Mayor of Meadowview", due to his natural inclination for discourse and unanimous popularity among the other residents. Small gestures, such as a neighbor making him a home-cooked meal, make an important impression on Fred. He laughs in disbelief as he boasts of the kindness his fellow residents bestow upon him. He loves to talk, and his life as a fireman, furniture mover, and truck driver have left him with many stories to tell. His social life begins every morning at 10:30am when all the residents of Meadowview Apartments gather in the common room to wait for the mailman. "I need to be with people I can talk to. I like to get along with everyone."

Fred holds those he loves especially close. His wife, Florence, bore Fred 8 children. Their daughter who passed away at the age of 2 still holds a special place in Fred's heart and her photograph hangs on his living room wall. Fred spent most of his life with Florence; he speaks of her often, and calls her "Mumma" as the whole family must’ve referred to her.

"I'm spared for a reason, but I don't know what it is," Fred says as he contemplates his new life upon Florence's passing November of 2010; he confesses it feels as though he’s living without an essential part of his own being. To Fred, Florence is a constant. She is always with him. She followed him up to Waldoboro, and they spent their lives together raising their children in central Maine, scraping together a living as Fred was compelled to retire early after the Boston riots against firemen 1971. As a couple, they found solace in their supportive friends and friendly community at church. But as with many families, they met with their fair share of dysfunction.

Later in life, Fred and Florence tried their luck at many different living situations. They spent time in affordable housing but were also invited into a few of their children’s homes over the years. At one point, they even moved to their son’s home in Indiana hoping they would be able to split their time between both their son’s and one of their daughter’s families who was located just over the Illinois line. Much to Fred and Florence’s dismay the two children were on bad terms with each other and both were unwilling to bury the hatchet in order to help foster a situation where Fred and Florence could develop a relationship with their grandchildren. Instead their kids used them as a means to hurt each other. Fred and Florence moved back to Maine, and it was in 2009 that Florence’s Alzheimer’s worsened.

When Florence passed away a year later, Fred hoped that her funeral would finally bring the children together. He was grieving, making arrangements for the funeral (one that is still not fully paid for as his children have not settled on exactly how much each one is willing to pay), and trying to gather his family together; trying to give them a reason to put their differences aside. This was not to be, and as Fred tells his story without pointing a finger of guilt at any one person, it’s clear that he remains hopeful that his children will find that peace with each other one day.

After the funeral, Fred moved in to his daughter’s home. Fred found himself alone in a house with a son-in-law whose behavior struck Fred as disrespectful and unacceptable. “Every sentence he used foul language, and I don’t like to be around that. I couldn’t talk to him,” Fred explains. It was a difficult year dealing with the loss of his soul-mate and finding himself with no one to talk to. “I never thought I’d be without Mumma, I never thought I’d be the last one left.” Statistically it is far more probable for a wife to outlive her husband, and Fred’s sentiment is a common one among elderly widowers. But his faith and his hope helped him to a better place and he applied again for affordable housing. It was just a few months after that he was accepted for a unit in Avesta’s Meadowview Apartments. Now it seems Fred has found the right place to settle. He may not reconcile his children’s quarrels, and he will always miss his Florence, but in a home filled with colorful characters of whom Fred claims are “all wonderful and filled with great stories,” Fred is both engaged and engaging in the lives of his peers; people that he loves to talk to.

Fred Scott
resident, Meadowview in Gray



A Few Minutes with John RyanFeb 1, 2012

John Ryan co-owns Wright-Ryan Construction, Inc., a company that builds many projects throughout Maine. We sat down with him to see what interests a businessman like John Ryan in nonprofit development and to better understand how projects like these help the community at large.

 

Tyler DeVos: How does a typical project impact the work force during construction?

John Ryan: When building a typical property with Avesta, Wright-Ryan (through subcontractors) may employ up to 100 workers on a project, daily, during peak periods. This doesn’t include the work that happens off site. The amount of job creation (spawned by a typical Avesta Housing project) filters out very broadly.

TD: Why is it important to develop housing in neighborhoods with a more concentrated population?

JR: There are a lot of historic projects in desirable neighborhoods happening right now because the tax credit system in Maine is so favorable. You need to try to build housing where the people are. So we ask ‘where are the people who need housing?’ They’re here, in downtown Portland, in downtown Lewiston.

TD: What makes Avesta a good developer to work with?

JR: Avesta has a clear vision. They know they’re going to be managing their properties for the long term and the quality of their work reflects this.  Avesta is willing to take risks that most agencies won’t. They’ll think about housing for the chronically homeless, for victims of abuse. Affordable housing has been one of the very few bright spots in the construction economy for the past 3 years.



Oak Street Lofts Opens, To Host Open House During First Friday Art WalkFeb 1, 2012

"This latest addition to the arts district is a continuation of the momentum that Maine College of Art initiated when it moved into the Porteous Building 15 years ago," says Jessica Tomlinson, Director of Public Relations for MECA. "The Arts District is now a destination for living, working, and playing. By providing artist-friendly efficiency apartments on the peninsula, Avesta is serving a critical need for affordable housing while also enhancing the national reputation of Portland's thriving arts scene."

More...

Housing strategy pays off in WestbrookJan 26, 2012

Avesta Housing, based in Portland, is planning to renovate two buildings once used by St. Hyacinth Church, turning both into complexes offering one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments to lower-income families, according to Deborah Keller, director of programs at Avesta. More...

So. Berwick council meets with Avesta on senior housing planJan 22, 2012

A proposed Young Street housing complex for the elderly would require a zoning change to allow more residential units per building, officials determined Tuesday at a workshop with Avesta Housing.

More...

Bob Moss, Boston CapitalJan 22, 2012

More...

Lisa's StoryJan 19, 2012

Artistic, intelligent, and talented, Lisa Wallace was accepted and attended Oberlin’s conservatory of music out of high school. Though she loved singing, she soon dropped out and went to nursing school. She worked as a nurse for 10 years, but then worked as a book keeper, then an inn owner, and finally as a grade school secretary. “I still don’t know what I’m going to be when I grow up,” Lisa jokes after listing all of her past jobs. Though, at the time, she worried why she had such an inability to focus and invest in a career path. She found herself crippled by her anxieties. While still working as a secretary, Lisa developed a psychogenic stutter. She couldn’t get through a sentence when answering the phone at school, and she took a medical leave of absence.

This small, psychologically-triggered malfunction of speech, which still occurs when Lisa gets overly worried or excited, led to the diagnoses of larger issues that had plagued Lisa her whole life and made it nearly impossible for her to succeed professionally. She was diagnosed with major depressive disorder, major anxiety disorder, and borderline personality disorder along with fibromyalgia (deep pain felt in the muscles, joints, and tendons, often linked with depression). She was prescribed medication but could not return to work, and with no income she was unable to make her mortgage payments. So her family made them for her until she could sell the house, suffer only minor debt, and move back in with her mother. “You can imagine the feelings of shame and guilt I had,” Lisa reflects on that difficult period of her life. “I was miserable.” That shame and guilt coupled with her natural predisposition to depressive behavior convinced Lisa try to take her own life, her first of 5 suicide attempts. People everywhere live with depression and suffer from these sorts of ideations. But if you were to knock on Lisa’s door at Avesta Housing’s Cousens School apartment building in Kennebunk today, you’d find a very different sort of person.

Lisa waited on a list for a year before she was offered a unit at Cousens School which opened in 2008 and has lived there ever since. The housing provided Lisa with stability and a space of her own that she could make into a home she could take pride in. With that stability she found herself very active within the community. She lost 50lbs since moving in and the first year she lived in Cousens she ran a resident council. She finally had enough spending money to be able to buy small gifts for the children in the building during Christmas. She enjoyed crafting artful packaging for the gifts. She took an art class and learned how to use markers. Her work hangs on her apartment walls and are so well drawn they look like inventive interpretations of famous impressionists. She also writes poetry, makes origami, and she and a friend knit together. In the summer she enjoys knitting outside by the playground where she can interact with the other families that live in the building and listen to the children play.

As Lisa tells her story, she laughs and sometimes digresses while exploring other topics she finds interesting. She is curious about other people’s lives and loves relating to everyone in the room. She makes intricate connections between what people tell her and what she’s experienced in her own life, and she’s certain to teach those fortunate enough to speak with her a bevy of new vocabulary words. When asked what she thinks has helped contribute to this healthier, happier state of mind, Lisa replies “Drugs,” referring to her medication, then laughs. “No, it’s a combination of the right medication formula, a great medical team, great friends, and great socialization.” Then she sighs and adds “It took a while to get here.”

Those who know about depression and similar mental illnesses know that, for a woman like Lisa, her productivity and sense of personal contribution within her community is what fuels her happiness and her ability to function independently. “Everyone deserves the opportunity to live their own life.” Without the foundation her apartment provides, where would Lisa be now? Luckily that is not a question that needs answering, and instead Lisa meets with her friends and confides in them that she’s so excited for her son’s wedding this September. She has already started ordering dresses so she can pick out the perfect one.

Lisa Wallace, resident
Counsens School Apartments, Kennebunk

 

 



Avesta’s 8 low-income housing projects estimated to add 250 homes, cost $55MJan 12, 2012

A flurry of construction in the Portland area will provide new housing options for the area’s low-income residents.  Oak Street Lofts is just one of eight Avesta Housing projects either in the queue or in various stages of construction. More...

Meet PaulineJan 11, 2012

Pauline Furman turned 89 in October this past year, and has lived in her Birch Lane apartment managed by Avesta Housing for the better part of a decade. An interior decorating enthusiast, she has adorned her walls with beautifully framed Victorian sketches and shelves of antique china she inherited from relatives. Modestly and gracefully, Pauline has made a home for herself in Gorham one way or another for a very long time. She and her husband built their house in Gorham in 1955, and her family has even deeper roots in western Maine. Over the years Pauline cared for her grandmother, then took care of her mother, and now she has two daughters (whom she refers to as her two angels) who help take care of her.

"I'm an awful lucky old woman," she says with a smile after listing all her family and friends who shop for her groceries, help balance her check book, and call or stop in every day. But Pauline's life has suffered its fair share of tragedy as well. In 1998 she and her husband, Merritt, had moved into a trailer park in their new mobile home on a Saturday, and on Sunday he passed away. "I miss him more and more every day." Pauline says, but is also careful to note how lucky she was that she and Merritt were able to travel to every state in the continental USA. She still has the photo albums from their various adventures. Pauline didn't feel she could stay in that trailer without Merritt but she did as she waited four years before receiving a call telling her she could move into one of the apartments at Birch Lane.

"The people here are wonderful." Pauline proclaims of her neighbors and of Sara Forgione, the resident service coordinator at Birch Lane apartments who confirms that the residents here have formed a community where everyone looks out for everyone else. This is absolutely invaluable to someone like Pauline who, as she approaches the 90-year-mark, has come to rely on a support system of people to help her with the things that she cannot do for herself anymore; although Pauline hasn’t given up her passions easily. She golfed until the age of 83 and still completes puzzles on a small work space in her living room. And she remains ever grateful to those who help her.

"I don't know why they all want to help me. I'm no different than anyone else." Pauline states this after remarking that she's not sure her life is interesting enough to write about. Of course after meeting her, it's easy to see that her selflessness, sense of humor, and understated warm amiability make her as compelling a subject as anyone.



Robert J. Pelletier, Area Specialist, Rural DevelopmentJan 11, 2012

As always, the Avesta team has done an excellent job in the development of this old school house into affordable housing. Not many developers could handle this type of complex deal.

Logan Place ResidentJan 11, 2012

Today is my five-year anniversary at Logan Place; I moved in January 27, 2006. I am thrilled. I am so thrilled. When I moved in here five years ago I used to sit in the lobby while they were giving tours. They used to ask me then what I thought about it and my answer today is still the same. Build ten more.

William Floyd, Executive Director, The Genesis FundJan 11, 2012

We are proud of our partnership with Avesta that resulted in seven different affordable housing projects for some of Maine's most vulnerable residents. We are grateful for our shared passion and advocacy for affordable housing.

Anna Joyce, Resident, Pearl PlaceJan 11, 2012

I just love living here. If I don’t say it out loud I definitely say it to myself everyday how happy I am to be here.

Mark Swann, Preble Street, Executive DirectorJan 11, 2012

Avesta Housing has changed the conversation about affordable housing in Portland.

'A fundamental mismatch to the supply of housing'Aug 23, 2011

It’s been a busy summer for Avesta Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing developer that currently has eight projects underway from Portland to Kennebunk.

More...

Housing developer seeks different shade of green for Portland-funded projectJul 15, 2011

Avesta Housing wants the city to waive a requirement for energy efficiency certification at the Mirada Adams School property on Munjoy Hill.    If granted, the waiver would be third under the ordinance, which was adopted two years ago. More...

Florence House Receives Honorable Mention in 2011 Edson AwardsApr 25, 2011

The Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition awards Florence House an Honorable Mention in the 2011 Charles L Edson Awards.

More...

IVS Receives Funds to Purchase VanDec 17, 2010

People's United Bank awarded matching funds for the purchase of a handicapped accessible van for the Inn at Village Square. More...

Avesta Hosts Russian Affordable Housing ContingentDec 7, 2010

A group from Archangel, Russia visits Avesta to discuss affordable housing. More...

Avesta Housing Wins ‘Housing for Everyone’ Grant From TD Charitable FoundationNov 23, 2010

TD Bank’s charitable giving arm, the TD Charitable Foundation, awarded $100,000 to Avesta Housing as part of the bank’s ‘Housing for Everyone’ program.

More...

Proposal would add affordable housing to Portland's Bayside neighborhoodNov 9, 2010

Additional affordable housing may be coming to the Bayside neighborhood. More...

NeighborWorks CEO Ken Wade Joins HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan and Other Dignitaries at New England Events Jun 30, 2010

NeighborWorks CEO Ken Wade applauds the efforts of Avesta Housing president Dana Totman.
More...

Florence House Named Finalist in Affordable Housing Finance Readers' Choice AwardsJun 18, 2010

Avesta Housing is the first affordable housing developer from Maine to be named a finalist for this award in its six year history. More...

Avesta gets green light on Park Street School projectJun 1, 2010

Construction expected to be complete by end of 2011 More...

Long-Awaited Housing for Homeless Women OpensMay 30, 2010

National, State and Local leaders gather to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Florence House. More...

Council backs selling half of school site to housing agencyMay 11, 2010

But some neighbors say the plan to build 16 units will further limit parking on Munjoy Hill. More...

Rep. Michael Carey Appointed to Avesta Housing Board of DirectorsApr 28, 2010

Avesta Housing announces the appointment of Maine State Representative Michael Carey to the Avesta Housing Board of Directors. More...

Adams School redevelopment back on Apr 12, 2010

Stalled plans to convert the former Adams School site into affordable housing are back on track thanks to a fresh infusion of federal economic stimulus cash. More...

Florence House ready to serve homeless womenApr 1, 2010

Advocates for the homeless are excited about the opening of a new permanent home set to open to serve the needs of homeless women in Portland.

More...

'Affordable,' artist-oriented apartment building planned for Oak Street in PortlandFeb 16, 2010

An affordable housing developer is planning to build a 37-unit apartment building in the Arts District, and is targeting artists for tenants. More...

Avesta Commences $5.6M Munjoy Commons Renovation Project in Portland's East End NeighborhoodJan 27, 2010

January 27, 2010 marked the start of a 16 month, $5.6 million dollar renovation of the 39 units of affordable rental housing in Munjoy Commons. More...

State Legislatures Visit Pearl PlaceJan 22, 2010

On Thursday, January 22nd, Avesta welcomed more than 60 state legislators to our 60-unit Pearl Place development in Portland. More...

Avesta Housing Announces New Board MembersJan 1, 2010

Avesta announces new board members. More...

Avesta Preserves 25 units of Elderly Housing in Androscoggin CountyJan 1, 2010

Avesta Housing purchased the Depot Street property, preserving these needed affordable apartments. More...

Avesta Housing presents the Mike Yandell AwardJan 1, 2010

Avesta Housing recently awarded Ben Walter, principal of CWS Architects in Portland, the Mike Yandell Award. More...

Avesta Receives Financing for Oak Street Project in PortlandDec 1, 2009

Avesta Housing has been awarded low income housing tax credits from MaineHousing.
More...

A Clean, Well-Lighted PlaceNov 1, 2009

Avesta's Logan Place featured in the November issue of DownEast Magazine. More...

Avesta featured on State of the State Jul 14, 2009

Avesta featured on 'State of the State' - Housing and the 124th Legislative Session More...

Avesta Supporting Affordable Housing Bond BillJul 1, 2009

Avesta supports a bill proposing to create energy efficient, affordable housing. More...

National Low Income Housing Coalition Welcomes New Board Member from MaineApr 18, 2009

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) Board of Directors elected Greg Payne as one of six new members to serve on the board at its April 18, 2009 meeting in Washington, DC. More...

Portland building wins design awardMar 27, 2009

Pearl Place, a 60-unit affordable housing development at the corner of Oxford and Pearl streets in Portland's Bayside neighborhood, has received two national awards for its green design.
More...

Park Street School proposal defeatedJan 31, 2009

Record numbers turn out for Town Meeting. More...

Avesta Housing To Become Chartered Affiliate of NeighborWorks® AmericaNov 1, 2008

Avesta's participation in the network will strengthen NeighborWorks' influence in Northern New England. More...

Cousens School Transitions to Affordable ApartmentsNov 1, 2008

Avesta Housing celebrated the grand opening of Cousens School Apartments with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday, October 29, 2008
More...

LEED® for Homes Gold Certification Awarded to Green Maine Affordable Housing ProjectAug 4, 2008

Fore Solutions is proud to announce that the first of the two Pearl Place buildings constructed for Avesta Housing was awarded LEED® for Homes Gold by the U.S Green Building Council on Tuesday, July 29, 2008. More...

Florence House will be welcome addition to cityMar 12, 2008

Florence House, a $7.9 million project between St. John and Valley streets will provide permanent and shelter housing for 50 homeless women. More...

Avesta Housing Among Three Maine Companies to Receive Awards at 2008 USGBC GreenBuild ExpoJan 1, 2008

At the 2008 Greenbuild International Conference, the U.S. Green Building Council awarded Taggart Construction and Avesta Housing Green Homebuilder Awards and CB Richard Ellis the 2008 Leadership Award for Organizational Excellence. More...

Affordable Housing is an Economic NecessityFeb 1, 2007

High home prices relative to incomes are constricting our economy - by Nathan Szanton & Dana Totman** More...

Looking for more?

Check out Avesta's blog, The Porch Light, for more news, updates and stories.

Contact Development and Communications Manager Sara Olson at 207-553-7780 x3352 or by email.