New members appointed to Avesta, 75 State Street boards

Avesta Housing has appointed new members to the Avesta Housing Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees for 75 State Street, an affiliate of Avesta:

Alice Kabore, multicultural and multilingual coordinator for the South Portland School Department, has joined the Avesta Housing Board of Directors. Since 2019, Alice has been the African Gala chair for Sacred Heart Catholic Church/Saint Dominic Parish in Portland, which is dedicated to Portland’s immigrant community. She holds a bachelor’s degree from ESCO–IGES University in Burkina Faso and completed additional college work at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif. She is a certified residential medication aide, certified nursing assistant and personal support specialist.




Diane Donaldson, senior vice president and commercial banking team lead with Bangor Savings Bank, has joined the 75 State Street Board of Trustees. Diane has been with Bangor Savings Bank for more than 15 years and has worked in commercial lending for almost 33 years. A Maine native, Diane began her career in Boston and moved back to Maine in 1995. Diane is also on the board of directors for Sweetser, for which she is chair of the governance committee and serves on the human resource and executive committees. She also serves on the board of directors of the Genesis Fund and is a member of its finance committee. Diane received her bachelor’s degree from Wheaton College in Norton, Mass.

Deering Place wins MEREDA development award

Deering Place, Avesta Housing’s newest affordable housing development in Portland, has been named one of the top real estate developments in Maine by the Maine Real Estate & Development Association (MEREDA). The award was presented during MEREDA’s annual spring conference on May 24 at Holiday Inn by the Bay in Portland and accepted by Avesta Housing Development Officer Pat Hess and Drew Wing, a former Avesta employee and current chief operating officer for Zachau Construction, general contractor for Deering Place.

The seven developments were selected based on criteria that included environmental sustainability, economic impact, energy efficiency, social impact, uniqueness, difficulty of development, and job creation. According to a press release by MEREDA, they “not only embody MEREDA’s belief in responsible real estate development, but also exemplify best practices in the industry, contributing to excellent jobs and increased tax bases for our cities and towns.”

Bangor Savings Bank Gifts $50,000 to Avesta Housing

Bangor Savings Bank has awarded a $50,000 donation to Avesta Housing to support Avesta’s mission of providing safe, quality affordable housing in Maine and New Hampshire.

As Avesta celebrates its 50th year, the need for affordable housing has never been greater. Bangor Savings Banks’ gift will help Avesta provide residents and applicants with essential support and services. A portion of the funds will support the activities of the Avesta HomeOwnership Center, which provides homebuyer education classes, free financial counseling and assistance with foreclosure prevention.

“We are proud to recognize and support Avesta Housing’s 50th Anniversary to further aid critical housing challenges. Avesta’s advocacy and timely work in providing and promoting affordable housing and support services for low- and moderate-income individuals and families is important to improving our economic landscape, now more than ever,” said Jay Muth, vice president and community development banking and public finance officer of Bangor Savings Bank. “We wish Avesta continued success in improving access to affordable and safe housing for the residents in our communities in Maine and New Hampshire.”

(Pictured left to right: Rebecca Hatfield, senior vice president of real estate, Avesta Housing; Shawn McKenna, vice president, commercial banking, Bangor Savings Bank; Dana Totman, president and CEO, Avesta Housing; Jay Muth, vice president and community development and CRA officer, Bangor Savings Bank; Eric Boucher, senior vice president of finance and administration, Avesta Housing; and Josephine Katandula, management trainee, Bangor Savings Bank)

New program helps Maine homeowners prevent foreclosure

On May 5, Maine lawmakers announced the $50 million Maine HomeOwner Assistance Fund to help homeowners in the state who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Avesta HomeOwnership Center (HOC) is helping to facilitate the program.

The Maine HomeOwner Assistance Fund is a free federal relief program for homeowners in Maine who have been financially impacted by COVID-19; are behind on their mortgage, housing, property tax or utility payments; and are at risk of foreclosure. The program, which provides up to $25,000 per eligible household, is funded through the U.S. Department of Treasury and administered by the Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection.

Eligible homeowners are urged to make an appointment by clicking below.

“Getting help early in the process can mean the difference between saving your home and losing it to foreclosure,” said HOC Director Nicole DiGeronimo. “We are here to provide that help.”

Avesta raises $2.4 million for Silver Hearth Fund to aid seniors

Avesta Housing is proud to announce that it has exceeded its $2 million goal for its first-ever fundraising campaign, the Silver Hearth Fund. This money will help improve the lives of older residents who lack the resources necessary for a stable household consisting of safe, quality housing and adequate necessities such as food, health care and psychological wellbeing.

Thanks to the generosity of partners and friends, Avesta raised $2.4 million during the three-year campaign, which was launched by leadership gifts from Gorham Savings Bank, Bangor Savings Bank, and Norway Savings Bank. Kennebunk Savings propelled the campaign over the top with a $550,000 donation.

“Our donors’ generous support of Avesta Housing has touched lives, improved lives, and saved lives. Creating and maintaining a safe, quality home is the vital first step in building a foundation for a healthy and happy community,” said Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman.

New data shows spike in affordable housing needs in 2021

The need for affordable housing in Maine and New Hampshire reached critical levels in 2021, as exemplified by new data released by Avesta Housing.

Applications for affordable housing with Avesta rose significantly from 2020 to 2021, with more than a third coming from people who identified as being homeless. At the same time, the average household income of applicants increased by 8%, indicating that the rising cost of goods and services are negatively impacting people’s ability to pay for housing. And while there was more affordable housing provided by Avesta in 2021, the demand far outpaced the speed at which new homes could be built.

Avesta Housing receives $250,000 Housing for Everyone grant

Avesta Housing was recently awarded a $250,000 Housing for Everyone grant from the TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®. Avesta is one of 33 organizations selected from more than 357 applicants to receive a Housing for Everyone grant as part of the TD Charitable Foundation’s annual grant program helping to provide affordable housing since 2005.

The grant will support organizational expansion to meet the growing demand for affordable housing and support services. In addition to allowing for additional personnel to assist people applying for or living in Avesta’s homes, the Housing for Everyone grant will focus on supporting immigrant applicants and residents through staff support and the translation of application/residency documents. The primary objectives are to remove barriers to affordable housing and increase housing stability for people with low incomes.

Avesta promotes new bill to address affordable housing crisis in Maine

Avesta Housing President and CEO Dana Totman and Board Member Peter Bass toured the Park Village neighborhood of Saco on March 2 with Maine House Speaker Ryan Fecteau and Rep. Lynn Copeland, Maine House District 14, as part of a tour and press conference promoting LD 2003, a new bill before the Maine legislature to address the affordable housing crisis.

The bill incorporates recommendations made by a state commission formed in 2021 to study the impact of municipal zoning laws and land use restrictions on housing opportunities in Maine and to propose solutions to the affordable housing crisis. Totman was a member of the commission.

“The Park Village neighborhood in Saco is a great example of a mixture of housing that grew organically,” Totman said. “There are modest single-family homes for retirees and first-time homeowners, affordable apartments for older adults and people with disabilities, multi-story houses, and a large condominium complex, all within walking distance of each other. You simply don’t see that happening anywhere in the state of Maine anymore.

“This legislation will make it easier to facilitate a diverse mix of housing development and increase the number of affordable housing communities that are so desperately needed.”

(Photo: Avesta Housing President and CEO Dana Totman and Maine House Speaker Ryan tour the Park Village neighborhood of Saco.)

Avesta presents Yandell Award to ProsperityME

ProsperityME has been awarded the Avesta Housing Mike Yandell Award for its extraordinary work in the field of affordable housing.

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 annually to an individual or organization that helps provide safe, quality affordable housing to people in Maine or New Hampshire.

Founded in 2008, ProsperityME in a nonprofit organization that empowers new Mainers via free financial counseling, career and business development, housing assistance and college scholarships. Its services are available to refugees, immigrants, asylees and low-income residents in Greater Portland and Lewiston/Auburn.

“Many of the residents living at Avesta properties are new Mainers, and the assistance they receive from ProsperityME is invaluable in helping them develop productive, rewarding lives for themselves and their families,” said Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman. “For more than a decade, they have been a great resource and partner in the state’s affordable housing industry.”

In accepting the award, ProsperityME Executive Director Claude Rwaganje noted the close relationship between Avesta and his organization.

“Since our organization began 13 years ago, I have worked closely with Dana and Avesta Housing. In fact, we were provided with office space at Avesta for seven years until we moved three years ago,” Rwaganje said. “I have seen firsthand the importance and economic impact of Avesta’s work benefitting the Greater Portland community.

“We are very honored to receive the Mike Yandell Award for our work supporting immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in securing affordable housing as they begin their new lives in Maine. This award will inspire us to continue this important work.”

PHOTO: ProsperityME Executive Director Claude Rwaganje, left, receives the Mike Yandell Award from Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman.