Donate to Avesta by Dec. 31 and double your impact

Diversity of backgrounds and cultures is one of the defining traits of our country. People come to the U.S. from all over the world seeking a better life for themselves and their families, a chance to build a future as members of, and contributors to, their communities.

During the past few years, the number of asylum seekers arriving in Maine has increased significantly. Among other obstacles, they face a critical housing shortage and many are at risk of becoming homeless.

We’re asking for your financial support of Avesta’s work to provide homes and access to services for these individuals and families. Thanks to generous community members who have created a matching gift challenge, your gift will be doubled!

Avesta Housing is partnering with MaineHousing and numerous organizations to provide homes and access to vital services for asylum seekers experiencing homelessness­, including:

  • English language learning classes
  • Food access
  • Transportation
  • Legal assistance
  • Health care
  • Job training

ALL donations Avesta receives from now through the end of the year will be matched, up to $45,000. With your gift, we can help asylum seekers with a home and the support that will help them achieve the stability they traveled so far to find. Please donate today by clicking here.

Avesta provides affordable housing to asylum seekers experiencing homelessness

Angola. Afghanistan. South Sudan. Rwanda. Burundi. Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Asylum seekers in Maine come from these countries and more. They have different beliefs, different cultures, different backgrounds. But they have at least one thing in common: They have been forced to flee their home countries. Now they are in Maine, eager to begin a new phase in their lives and hopeful for a better future.

Last month, Avesta Housing processed 1,037 applications for apartments at West End II, our new development in South Portland. The majority of applicants are asylum seekers who are homeless and living in motels or shelters.

We held open office hours multiple times throughout the application week to meet with and support the influx of people who needed help applying. Staff assisted with applications, and some served as interpreters for applicants who spoke no or limited English.

It was good to engage with members of the community again, said Applicant Services Manager Emily Pelletier. And it was gratifying to know they were helping those in need of affordable housing.

“I think I can speak for my team when I say that what we are taking away from this experience is a real wish we had even more apartments for these folks,” Pelletier said.

The massive number of applications is indicative of the great need for safe, quality, affordable housing in Maine and New Hampshire, said Avesta Housing President & CEO Rebecca Hatfield.

“The sheer volume of applications for West End II is an alarm signal that we must be purposeful and creative in our approach to meeting the needs not just of asylum seekers experiencing homelessness, but also of the many others who come to us every day seeking an affordable home,” Hatfield said. “We currently have more than 700 new homes in the development pipeline, and we are actively working to acquire and build more in the years to come. With the dedication and support of our staff, partners, and supporters, we will continue to seek creative ways to help ensure that everyone has a place to call home.”

River Turn Woods celebrated with groundbreaking

CONWAY, NH — Avesta Housing celebrated its first affordable housing development in Mount Washington Valley on Sept. 23 with a groundbreaking ceremony featuring development, legislative, and financial partners.

When completed, River Turn Woods will provide 156 new homes to the Conway area. The first phase, consisting of 40 new homes, is expected to be completed by summer 2023. The development is located near the Technology Village Business Resource Center on Route 16 (White Mountain Highway).

“Avesta is honored to be part of this vibrant community that holds such a rich history, and we are proud to be able to bring much-needed affordable housing to the area,” said Avesta Housing President and CEO Rebecca Hatfield. “We recognize that New Hampshire and Maine are experiencing a dire and unprecedented affordable housing crisis, and we are committed to doing everything we can to address that challenge.”

Also speaking at the event were Patrick Hess, Avesta Housing director of real estate development; Chuck Henderson, special assistant for policy and projects for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; Ben Belanger, senior assistant for policy and projects for Sen. Maggie Hassan; Rob Dapice, executive director and CEO of New Hampshire Housing; Andy Dean, chair of the Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition; and Diane Donaldson, senior vice president with Bangor Savings Bank.

In addition to those listed above, Avesta thanks the following for their support and expertise in helping to make this development and groundbreaking event a reality: Attitash Ski Resort, WNC, Federal Loan Home Bank of Boston, the New Hampshire Community Development Finance Authority, the Town of Conway, Preti Flaherty, the Mt. Washington Valley Economic Council, State Sen. Jeb Bradley, Lassel Architects, Hutter Construction Corp., and HEB Engineers Inc.

Avesta Housing is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year as a leader in affordable housing development and services. Its portfolio includes 110 affordable housing properties with a total of 3,200 apartments housing nearly 5,000 residents. River Turn Woods is one of several Avesta developments under construction that will collectively provide more than 700 new affordable homes to Maine and New Hampshire.

Participants celebrate the development of River Turn Woods, a new Avesta Housing affordable housing development in Conway, N.H., with a ceremonial groundbreaking. (L-R): Jay Muth, vice president of community development, Bangor Savings Bank; Diane Donaldson, senior vice president of commercial lending, Bangor Savings Bank; Ben Belanger, senior assistant for policy and projects for Sen. Maggie Hassan; Chuck Henderson, special assistant for policy and projects for Sen. Jeanne Shaheen; Rob Dapice, executive director and CEO of New Hampshire Housing; Rebecca Hatfield, president and CEO of Avesta Housing; Andy Dean, chair of the Mount Washington Valley Housing Coalition; David Ciminelli, vice president of originations, WNC & Associates; Patrick Hess, director of real estate development, Avesta Housing; John Eastman, town manager, City of Conway; Lars Traffie, president, Hutter Construction; Sarah Hourihane, principal architect, Lassel Architects; and Michal Kaleta, project manager, Lassel Architects (Photo by Cheryl Senter/New Hampshire Housing)

Deering Place mural pays homage to residents and community

One of the unique aspects of Deering Place, Avesta Housing’s new affordable housing development in downtown Portland, is the use of art to decorate interior and exterior space. Several local artists provided work to bring Deering closer to the pulse of the community and make it a warm, welcoming home to residents.

Among the more striking pieces is a large-scale mural on the wall of the exterior parking garage. Greeting motorists as they pull into the space, the work consists of two parts: A sign that bids “welcome” in five languages and a larger sign that reads “Deering Place” with images inside the letters.

The mural is the work of Ryan Adams, who over the past decade has become one of the most in-demand artists for businesses and public spaces in Maine and elsewhere. Through his art, the Portland native tells the story of a location that is educational while aesthetically pleasing.

For the Deering Place mural, Ryan created a design that is a nod to traditional postcards with big block letters representing the advertised location. That meant not only references to Portland (Monument Square, a lobster) but references to residents’ home countries (African textile patterns, a desert scene, a woman wearing a hijab).

The intent was to capture the diversity of the resident population, which includes everyone from native Mainers to recent immigrants. Residents were invited to give their input as to what the design should incorporate, and were shown sketches to ensure the depictions were accurate.

Deering Place residents and staff will recognize a familiar face in the last letter, “E”: Maintenance technician Matt Lorello. Ryan was asked to paint something that depicted a traditional Mainer. He found his muse in Matt. “Once I met him, I thought, ‘Oh, he’s perfect!” Ryan said.

For Ryan, working at Deering Place was more than just a job. It was an honor.

“Having the chance to make something that hopefully represents the residents and their cultures or where they’re from was very special to me,” Ryan said. “It’s not a public piece; it’s just for the residents of this building. That’s a layer that I don’t often have.”

For more information about Ryan and his art, visit his website: ryanwritesonthings.com

 

Construction begins on River Turn Woods in New Hampshire

Our development team has closed on the land acquisition and construction financing for the first phase of River Turn Woods in Conway, N.H., and construction is underway. A groundbreaking ceremony is tentatively scheduled for September.

When completed, River Turn Woods will provide 40 new homes (30 affordable and 10 market rate) to the Conway community. The lease-up process is anticipated to begin in August 2023.

Gauvreau Place brings more affordable housing to Lewiston

Maine Assistant Attorney General Johanna Gauvreau talks about her father and Gauvreau Place namesake Paul Gauvreau during the July 12 ribbon cutting ceremony of Gauvreau Place

On July 12, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held in Lewiston for Gauvreau Place, a new housing development at Blake and Pine streets by Community Concepts, Inc. that provides 28 affordable housing units and seven market rate units. Avesta Housing developed and is managing the property for Community Concepts. The ceremony included speeches by Maine Governor Janet Mills, Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman, MaineHousing Director Daniel Brennan, former Community Concepts CEO Shawn Yardley, Community Concepts Board President Ed Barrett, and Lewiston Mayor Carl Sheline.

Gauvreau Place is named for the late Paul Gauvreau, a Lewiston attorney, legislator, and volunteer for numerous nonprofit organizations, including Community Concepts, for which he served as board chairman. The property on which Gauvreau Place was built once housed the medical offices of Paul’s grandfather and father. Paul’s family helped cut the ribbon, and one of his daughters, Maine Assistant Attorney General Johanna Gauvreau, talked about how he instilled the value of public service in his children and stressed the importance of helping others less fortunate than oneself.

Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman

Maine Gov. Janet Mills

Maine Gov. Janet Mills, Jessica Gauvreau, Maine Assistant Attorney General Johanna Gauvreau, and former Community Concepts CEO Shawn Yardley cut the ribbon at Gauvreau Place

Avesta Housing names 2022 scholarship winners

Avesta Housing has named the recipients of its 2022 educational scholarships. The $1,000 scholarships are awarded annually to Avesta Housing residents who are enrolling in a secondary education program — such as college, graduate school, trade school, or certificate programs — in the next 12 months.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Avesta Housing. To mark this historic occasion, Avesta has expanded the number of scholarship recipients from two to three for the first time.
This year’s recipients are:

  • Meredith Bolduc, South Portland: A single mother of a special needs child, Meredith has enrolled at Southern New Hampshire University to complete her Bachelor’s degree. “My biggest educational goal is to graduate from college so I can have a career that will support my family, help others, be personally satisfying, and allow for a balanced lifestyle,” she said.
  • Oumalkaire Omar, Portland: Omar is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in finance at Howard University. She intends to obtain her Master’s degree and help others improve their financial literacy. “My vision for change is to create lasting opportunities, policies, and institutions to secure financial stability in my home country Djibouti for generations to come,” she said. (Oumalkaire’s sister, Hanan, won an Avesta educational scholarship last year.)
  • Johan Sifa, Portland: Johan is in her second year as an international business major at Champlain College. Her career goal is to partner with nonprofits around the world to help provide educational opportunities to children. “Ever since I was a little girl, I have always had a passion for helping others … the more I grow, the more I realize that that is who I am,” she said.

 

Rebecca Hatfield named new President & CEO of Avesta Housing

Following a months-long, nationwide search, Rebecca Hatfield has been chosen as the next president and CEO of nonprofit affordable housing provider Avesta Housing. Hatfield is currently senior vice president of real estate at Avesta, and her promotion to president and CEO is the latest testament to the skills and accomplishments she has exhibited since joining the organization in 2015.

The Avesta Housing Board of Directors selected Hatfield from a highly competitive pool of applicants due to her strong leadership skills; extensive experience in nonprofit management, finance and real estate development; and deep commitment to Avesta’s mission.

“Rebecca impressed us with her compassion for the people in our community and her strategic vision for our organization,” said Jonathan Culley, chair of the Avesta Housing Board of Directors. “As Avesta celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, we are excited to support Rebecca as she leads this nonprofit into the next chapter of its history.”

Avesta Housing is the largest nonprofit affordable housing provider in northern New England, with 109 properties and more than 4,600 residents. In her new role as president and CEO, Hatfield will oversee 300 employees working to provide safe, quality, affordable homes and support services for people in need through real estate development, property management, housing stability services and assisted living.

“I am honored to be selected for this important role,” Hatfield said. “The affordable housing crisis in our community has reached unprecedented levels. I look forward to working with our staff, residents, partners, policymakers and neighbors to address these challenges and ensure that everyone has a place to call home.”

Hatfield will replace current Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman upon his retirement in September. During his 22 years with Avesta, Totman has led the organization through tremendous growth: the number of staff has increased from 60 to 300, affordable homes in the Avesta portfolio have increased from 700 to 3,200, and assets have increased from $60 million to $350 million.

Prior to joining Avesta, Hatfield was a senior vice president at Citigroup. She brings over 15 years of experience in finance and real estate with a focus on deal structuring, underwriting, portfolio management and relationship management. Her previous employment also includes five years as a software and network management engineer.

Hatfield was named a 2021 Mainebiz Women to Watch and is actively involved in the community beyond her role at Avesta. She serves as the board vice chair and loan committee chair for Genesis Community Loan Fund and serves on the boards of the Maine Real Estate and Development Association (MEREDA) and the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. She is also a corporator for Androscoggin Bank. Previously, she served on the board of the Maine Council on Aging.

Avesta Housing presents STRIVE U with Mike Yandell Award

STRIVE U of South Portland has been awarded the Avesta Housing Mike Yandell Award for its extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing. Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman presented the award on June 22 to Pete Brown, associate director of PSL Services/STRIVE, during Avesta’s grand opening celebration of Deering Place, a 75-unit affordable housing development in downtown Portland.

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, the award is presented to an individual or organization that helps provide safe, quality, affordable housing to people in Maine or New Hampshire.

STRIVE U teaches adults ages 18 to 25 with emotional and intellectual disabilities the skills needed to live independently. Avesta Housing partners with PSL Services/STRIVE to provide affordable housing and services to STRIVE U graduates.

“At Avesta, we respect independence, and we also want to ensure that help and guidance are provided to residents as needed,” Totman said. “There’s a very difficult balance between allowing people to live on their own and providing help when needed. STRIVE U provides that level of service and support to residents so that they can succeed. Quite simply, they get it right.”

 

Avesta hosts grand opening celebration of Deering Place

On June 22, Avesta Housing held a grand opening celebration of Deering Place, a new 75-unit affordable housing development located in the heart of downtown Portland in the historic Parkside neighborhood.

A mixture of affordable and market-rate units, Deering Place consists of three apartment buildings located on contiguous lots in the historic Parkside neighborhood: 63 Deering St., a new building; 61 Deering St., a renovated apartment building; and 510 Cumberland Ave., an adaptive reuse of an existing building with a new addition and enclosed parking. Construction on all three buildings utilized sustainable design practices for maximum energy efficiency.

The grand opening featured speeches by Jonathan Culley, chair of the Avesta Housing Board of Directors; Dana Totman, Avesta Housing president & CEO; and Lucas Boniva, a Deering Place resident and graduate of STRIVE U, a program by PSL Services/STRIVE aimed at teaching its students necessary skills to live independently in the community.

Lucas Boniva

 

In addition, Totman presented the Mike Yandell Award to STRIVE U, which was accepted by PSL Services/STRIVE Associate Director Pete Brown. 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, the award is presented to an individual or organization that helps provide safe, quality affordable housing to people in Maine or New Hampshire.

Teague Morris, outreach director for U.S. Sen. Angus King (I–Maine), presented Totman, who is retiring, with an official copy of the Congressional Record for June 14, 2022, honoring Totman for his years of service in affordable housing.

Teague Morris (left) and Dana Totman

 

A tour of a vacant apartment unit was provided following the presentation. Food for the grand opening was provided by Little Easy Snoballs, Tandem Bakery, and Plot Twist Pretzels.