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Portland housing developers struggle to meet market needs


"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."

Mainebiz
By Randy Billings
February 20, 2012

A walk down Pearl Street in Portland's Bayside neighborhood produces sights and sounds of bulldozers moving frozen earth and contractors laying a building foundation. The activity highlights what has been the thrust of Great Recession-era housing projects in the city — affordable housing, fueled by government subsidies.

Avesta Housing, New England's largest nonprofit affordable housing developer, is building the second phase of its Pearl Place project at Pearl and Lancaster streets, says CEO Dana Totman, adding dozens of units of income-eligible housing with WiFi, security and on-site laundry, to the existing 60 units.

The development adds to the nonprofit's expanding portfolio in Portland. Avesta recently completed the affordable Oak Street Lofts in the city's Arts District. Those units are being marketed to artists as live-work space. The nonprofit, which built residential treatment facilities for the homeless such as the Florence House and Logan Place, also plans to break ground this spring on 16 townhouse condominiums on Munjoy Hill.

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