Lewiston moves ahead with Martel School redevelopment

LEWISTON — The city will begin negotiations for the sale of the former Martel Elementary School after the City Council unanimously supported a proposal to redevelop the site into senior housing.

Over the last month, elected officials have been mulling three redevelopment proposals, and councilors said Tuesday that they each received overwhelming public feedback in support of a plan by the Lewiston Housing Authority and Avesta Housing that would turn the school into 44 senior housing units.

The school on the corner of Lisbon Street and East Avenue closed in 2019 as the school department was set to open the brand new Connors Elementary, and the site was transferred to city control.

Sun Journal

Maine housing organization to share nearly $1.7 million

Maine is getting nearly $1.7 million from NeighborWorks America to support efforts to develop and preserve affordable housing, revitalize and sustain neighborhoods, and create jobs.

Sen. Susan Collins said the funding supports local housing organizations as they create “local solutions to community development and affordable housing challenges across Maine.”

The funding includes $434,500 for Avesta Housing Development Corp.; $527,500 for Coastal Enterprises Inc.; $316,500 for Community Concepts Inc.; $140,000 for Kennebec Valley Community Action Program Housing Services; and receive $235,000 for Penquis Community Action Program Inc.

Bangor Daily News

Lewiston City Council mulls redevelopment pitches for Martel School

LEWISTON — Senior housing, a commercial development or a community hub?

Those are the options on the table as the City Council considers which redevelopment proposal is best for the former Martel Elementary School on Lisbon Street.

A week before the council is expected to make a decision, officials representing all three proposals pitched their ideas during a Tuesday workshop.

The three bids received by the city came from the Lewiston Housing Authority and Avesta Housing; David Gendron from Gendron & Gendron in Lewiston; and Auburn SHAREcenter, a nonprofit school program that collects materials to be reused by schools or other programs.

Sun Journal

Mills signs affordable housing tax credit bill

Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday signed into law a bill that aims to create 1,00 more affordable housing units in Maine over the next eight years.

LD 1645, “An Act to Create Workforce and Senior Housing and Preserve Affordable Housing,” is a bipartisan measure sponsored by Rep. Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford.

It went to the governor’s desk after passing the Maine House and Senate last week.


New tax incentive would boost affordable housing construction

Gov. Janet Mills is expected to sign into law a bill that advocates say could substantially increase the number of affordable housing units built in Maine over the next eight years.

The measure would provide the first state-level tax credits to developers building new homes and apartments for poor and elderly Mainers and preserve existing rural housing.

Up to $10 million a year would be allocated to leverage federal funds and private investment for new housing. Advocates say it could create 1,000 new units and save another 500.

“This proposal represents the largest investment that Maine has ever made in creating and preserving affordable homes, and it couldn’t come at a more critical time,” said Greg Payne, director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, in a statement.

Portland Press Herald

For Chronically Homeless Mainers, Housing First Can Be A Lifesaving Solution

Homelessness is a growing problem around the country, including here in Maine.

Portland is currently working through the long and contentious process of building a new emergency shelter where people who are homeless can access services and stay on a night-by-night basis until they are able to move on.

But for about 20 percent of the homeless population emergency shelters or longer-term solutions that mandate counseling or sobriety just don’t work.

For this population, a new approach has emerged: low-barrier, permanent housing with no strings attached. It’s called “Housing First” and experts say that as part of a larger strategy, it can save lives — and in many cases, money.

maine public

Fate of Lewiston’s Martel School will be decided this month

LEWISTON — City officials will decide the future of the former Martel Elementary School building this month, with three redevelopment offers on the table.

The school closed in 2019, and was officially considered city property as of September 2019, when the brand new Conners Elementary opened. Since then, the city has solicited bids for the sale and redevelopment of the building and its property following recommendations from the Planning Board and Finance Committee.

On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss the proposals during a workshop, and according to City Administrator Ed Barrett, the council will likely make a decision during its Feb. 18 meeting.

The three bids received by the city come from the Lewiston Housing Authority and Avesta Housing; David Gendron from Gendron & Gendron in Lewiston; and Auburn SHAREcenter, a nonprofit school program that collects materials to be reused by schools or other programs.

Sun Journal

MaineHealth, Avesta execs among winners at annual Portland chamber event

The Portland Regional Chamber honored several individuals and groups, including executives at MaineHealth and Avesta Housing, at its annual awards event and community celebration, Imagine Portland, at Thompson’s Point last week.

William Caron Jr., CEO of MaineHealth, and Richard Petersen, president of MaineHealth and CEO of Maine Medical Center, were both presented with the chamber’s Champion Award, while Dana Totman, president and CEO of Avesta Housing, received its Catalyst Award during the event at Brick South last Wednesday.

The Collaborator Award winner was Portland Adult Education, which was recognized for building alliances and partnerships that positively address economic challenges. Paula Mahony, president and marketing strategist of Words@Work Inc., was honored with the Visionary Volunteer Award.

Portland Press Herald

Insider Notebook: Affordable housing initiative gets Mills boost

One of the louder and longer periods of sustained applause at Gov. Janet Mills’ state of the state address Tuesday night was when she called for more affordable housing support.

Specifically, she cited the Maine Affordable Housing Tax Credit, sponsored by Assistant House Majority Leader Ryan Fecteau, D-Biddeford, which Mills said would create nearly 1,000 additional affordable homes over eight years, increasing Maine’s current rate of production by 50%.

Send the bill to her, she said, and she’ll sign it.

The legislation was proposed by the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, and would leverage federal money not currently available to Maine with $80 million in state tax credits over four years.


City seeing increased need for housing for homeless seniors

PORTLAND — If Avesta Housing decides to build a facility on Brighton Avenue for homeless people 55 and older, it will be “just one piece of the puzzle” in assisting chronically homeless seniors in Portland, says Norman Maze.

“This is a population that is really in need of services. This kind of triage center and shelter is critically necessary,” said Maze, who is deputy director and housing director Shalom House, which provides services and housing to individuals with mental illnesses. “Living in the elements like that is putting a pretty big toll on their health.”

Avesta is looking into the possibility of building a tiered system – an assisted living facility, housing and an assessment center – for senior homeless people on city-owned land near the Barron Center, a site once considered for the city’s new homeless shelter.

Portland Press Herald