Avesta Housing & Preble Street announce plans for new Site-Based Housing First homes and services

PORTLAND, ME — Avesta Housing, the largest nonprofit affordable housing provider in northern New England, and Preble Street, a nonprofit social work agency serving the most vulnerable people in Maine, have announced plans to provide Site-based Housing First permanent housing with on-site support services to chronically homeless people on the site of the former Oxford Street homeless shelter in Portland.

Avesta Housing has secured an option agreement to purchase the ⅓-acre parcel. Avesta is considering plans to develop a diverse, mixed-income community consisting of two components — Site-based Housing First and multifamily residential — with approximately 30 to 50 affordable apartments. If appropriate funding and municipal approvals can be secured, Avesta would begin construction in 2025.

“For almost 20 years, Avesta Housing has been providing Site-based Housing First homes in partnership with Preble Street to address chronic homelessness,” said Avesta Housing President & CEO Rebecca Hatfield. “That service is needed now more than ever. We are committed to ending homelessness throughout Maine, and the Oxford Street development will provide dozens of safe, quality, affordable homes to people who are in most dire need of them.”

“Site-based Housing First is based on a simple concept — everyone deserves housing and the support necessary to maintain it. In the almost 20 years we have been running Site-based Housing First programs, we have seen time and again chronically homeless individuals with complex needs find safety and a place to call home,” said Preble Street Executive Director Mark Swann. “With the current unsheltered homelessness crisis facing our state and the more than 150 people already on the waiting list for apartments at Logan Place, Florence House, and Huston Commons, this project is one critical part of the solution to ending chronic homelessness in Maine.”

If approved and funded, the Oxford Street development would also be one of the first new Site-based Housing First developments in Maine following a landmark budget package signed by Gov. Janet Mills in July 2023 that created the Housing First Program to address homelessness throughout the state.

“Housing First is a successful and cost-effective way to address the needs of people experiencing chronic homelessness,” said Gov. Janet Mills. “I’m proud that the biennial budget I signed this year fulfills a promise from my State of the Budget Address to adopt a Housing First model and will expand the number of Housing First units from 85 to approximately 500 across the state through important projects like this one proposed by Avesta Housing and Preble Street.”

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