The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC) released new research today on Maine’s senior population, housing stock and unmet senior housing needs.
The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition (MAHC) released new research today on Maine’s senior population, housing stock and unmet senior housing needs. MAHC members also joined with state legislative leaders in calling for the passage of a general obligation bond proposal to help address those needs.
The group gathered this morning at the Cony Flatiron Building in Augusta, a former high school that is currently being repurposed into 48 units of affordable senior housing by Portland-based Housing Initiatives of New England.
The research, which was commissioned by MAHC and undertaken by Abt Associates, concluded that Maine has a shortage of nearly 9,000 affordable rental homes for low income older people, and that this shortfall will grow to more than 15,000 by 2022 unless action is taken to address the problem. It also found that Maine has the oldest population and the 8th oldest housing stock in the nation.
House Speaker Mark Eves (D-York County) and Senator David Burns (R-Washington County), co-chairs of the Legislature’s aging caucus, reacted to the new report and discussed legislation they are co-sponsoring to address the problem. Their “KeepME Home” initiative would authorize a $65 million general obligation bond, which would be used in combination with a mix of private and public resources to create 1,000 highly energy-efficient homes for Maine’s seniors in strategic locations across the state, allowing them to age in place successfully and affordably.
“The KeepME Home bond will address a dire need for affordable senior housing across our state,” said Speaker Eves. “It will also help create good housing and construction jobs in every county in the state. It's a win for seniors and our economy.”
Professionals in the construction, architectural and engineering sectors, including the Associated General Contractors of Maine, Associated Builders and Contractors of Maine, American Institute of Architects/Maine and the American Council of Engineering Companies of Maine are also supporting the senior housing bond initiative, citing the thousands of jobs that would be created through the construction of affordable, energy-efficient homes in all 16 Maine counties.
MAHC Director Greg Payne hailed the bipartisan proposal as precisely the kind of sound infrastructure investment needed to ensure that Maine’s seniors can successfully and affordably age in place. “The research released today shows that there is a fundamental mismatch between Maine’s housing supply and our seniors’ housing needs, and the KeepME Home bond initiative would address that mismatch while also creating thousands of sorely needed, good-paying jobs in the construction sector,” said Payne. “This is an opportunity that we can’t afford to pass up.”