City to invest in housing first approach

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.

Portland Daily Sun
By Craig Lyons
April 23, 2014

The city plans to put $50,000 toward the early phases of a project that will create a new housing first model development in Portland, and city officials are seeking additional funding to support a second proposal.

The City Council's Housing and Community Development committee reviewed a staff recommendation to give Avesta Housing $50,000 to do the preliminary work for a new housing first development in the style of Logan Place and Florence House, and also gave its support to pull $25,000 from the Housing Trust Fund to support another project proposal from Community Housing of Maine.

Earlier this year, the city issued a request for proposals for a housing first model development, a style of housing that a city task force noted is an important piece of moving people from homeless shelters into more stable housing. The $50,000 appropriated by the council in February would go toward the pre-development phase of a project, which could include architectural services, engineering work or environmental assessment studies.

Mary Davis, director of the Department of Planning and Urban Development's Community Development Division, said two proposals were submitted to the city seeking the $50,000, one from Avesta and another from Community Housing of Maine. The proposals were vetted by a committee and the recommendation was to fund the Avesta project but since the CHOM proposal had its own merits, Davis said, the committee sought to pull additional money from the trust fund to put toward that proposal as well.

"We liked both proposals," Davis said. "We'd like to fund both projects."

Davis said the review committee thought that supporting both projects will yield more units.

The Avesta project would potentially create upward of 30 units, according to a memo, and the CHOM project would create roughly 10 units.

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