Asylum seekers, refugees introduced to Thanksgiving traditions

WESTBROOK, Maine — Think of your family traditions on Thanksgiving Day, years of perfecting recipes, turkey trots, and football. It’s hard to imagine what to do if you were starting your life over from scratch.

For asylum seekers and refugees that have moved to Maine, Thanksgiving is a new experience. One church in Westbrook is opening its doors the Sunday after Thanksgiving to welcome in a new community to eat and learn about the holiday’s customs.

“We know that we have so many of our people in the communities that don’t have someone to celebrate with,” said Rev. Mutima Peter. “We wanted to make sure no one is left out and no one is isolated.”

News Center Maine

Bangor Savings Bank donates to Avesta Housing senior project

BANGOR — A new fund established to give more Maine seniors access to safe, clean, affordable housing has received a gift of $50,000 from Bangor Savings Bank with a pledge for $100,000 in the next two years.

Avesta Housing recently announced the creation of The Silver Hearth Fund. Avesta will receive the Bangor Savings funding over three years to help meet the fund’s goals of creating new housing units for seniors in urban and rural areas, providing services such as meals, transportation and socialization opportunities, and upgrading housing to provide efficient, sustainable living.

Bangor Savings loaned $49 million to affordable housing projects throughout Maine in 2018.

Sun Journal

Avesta launches $2M fundraising campaign to support senior housing

Avesta Housing has launched a $2 million fundraising program to support the affordable housing needs of older adults.

“The number of applicants on wait lists for our affordable senior properties is staggering, especially relative to the very few vacancies that become available annually,” Dana Totman, president and CEO of the nonprofit, said in a news release Friday. “Once these individuals have obtained a home, they often eventually require additional support services in order to age in place safely and with dignity. We all have a responsibility to step up and do more to help older adults in need.”

The fundraising program was publicly announced at a meeting of community leaders and partners on Nov. 13.

Avesta, founded in 1972, is a nonprofit provider of affordable housing that operates 2,700 apartments in Maine and New Hampshire. Last year, it received 4,046 household applications and yet was only able to provide homes to 373.


Press Release: Avesta Housing Launches Fundraising Program to Support Older Adults in Need

For Immediate Release

November 15, 2019

Contact: Sara Olson, Director of Development & Communications

Cell: 207-317-3914 | Email:


Avesta Housing Launches Fundraising Program to Support Older Adults in Need

Portland, Maine – Nonprofit Avesta Housing formally announced the launch of a fundraising program at a meeting of community leaders and partners on November 13. Founded in 1972, Avesta provides safe, affordable, quality homes to 4,000 people each year. However, Avesta is unable to meet the growing and urgent housing needs of the communities it serves and is looking to engage the community in support of its mission to provide and promote affordable homes for those in need, particularly older adults.

Avesta Housing operates 2,700 affordable apartments for a diverse population of individuals and families. In 2018, Avesta received 4,046 household applications and yet was only able to provide homes to 373 of those households. Among older adults, the need is particularly acute as Avesta President & CEO Dana Totman noted at the meeting, “The number of applicants on wait lists for our affordable senior properties is staggering, especially relative to the very few vacancies that become available annually. Once these individuals have obtained a home, they often eventually require additional support services in order to age in place safely and with dignity. We all have a responsibility to step up and do more to help older adults in need.”

Avesta Housing’s Board of Directors and leadership team have launched a fundraising program to support the mission and strategic priorities of the organization. Recognizing that securing an affordable home is critical to the health and well-being of older adults, the first focus area for the fundraising program will be older adults through a campaign called The Silver Hearth Fund.

The Silver Hearth Fund will provide vital support to assist the most vulnerable among Maine’s older population. In order to have the largest impact, the goal is to raise $2,000,000 over three years for the following priorities:

  • New Homes: Develop new homes to expand the housing units available to low-income seniors.
  • Expanded Services: Provide essential support services and programs that will assist older adults in living safe, healthy, and meaningful lives.
  • Improved Homes: Rehabilitate and modernize older Avesta properties so they may provide optimal safety and comfort for residents while operating more efficiently and effectively.

In the first 10 months of this fundraising effort, Avesta Housing has secured approximately $800,000 in pledges and gifts from community partners, including generous commitments from:

  • Gorham Savings Bank
  • Bangor Savings Bank
  • Norway Savings Bank
  • KeyBank, through the KeyBank Foundation
  • Clark Insurance
  • Tom and Rhonda Gioia
  • Bank of America
  • Zachau Construction
  • Jim Otis

Speaking to the new fundraising efforts and The Silver Hearth Fund specifically, Totman explained to the audience in yesterday’s meeting that “I’m honored that our partners share Avesta’s commitment to addressing the growing housing needs of our community. Working together we will be able to do so much more for those in need.”

About Avesta Housing

Avesta Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing provider with more than 45 years of experience as a leader in affordable housing development and property management in southern Maine and New Hampshire. The organization is headquartered in Portland, Maine and currently operates 98 affordable properties, 2,700 apartments, and two assisted-living facilities. Avesta’s mission is to improve lives and strengthen communities by promoting and providing quality affordable homes for people in need. Its five areas of focus are advocacy, real estate development, property management, senior/assisted living, and homeownership.



New Lewiston housing project at Blake and Pine streets is a go

The Lewiston Planning Board unanimously approved the development review and subdivision plan for 35 apartment units at 111 Blake St. and 82 Pine St. at its meeting last week, according to City Planner Doug Greene.

“We are targeting spring of next year (to break ground),” said Catherine Elliott, a development officer with Avesta Housing, which is consulting on the project for Community Concepts.

Community Concepts will own the building when it’s finished.

Elliott said they hope to have the first people moving in in the spring of 2021.

Sun Journal

Historic Scarborough property converted into affordable homes

SCARBOROUGH — A victory for historic preservation, the Southgate Farm in Scarborough, built in 1805, has been converted into 38 new and affordable homes.

Avesta Housing, a nonprofit developer and owner of the property, celebrated the grand opening of Southgate on Oct. 23, and the public was invited to join and tour a few of the new apartments.

The property was purchased in 2014, said Senior Vice President Eric Boucher. The builders were able to work with the town of Scarborough to convert the property into homes.

Informational brochures Avesta provided said that 15 of the homes are for residents who earn at or below 60 percent of the area median income. Twenty-three are for residents at or below 50 percent, and 20 percent of the homes are for households at risk of becoming homeless.


Centuries-old Scarborough farmhouse converted into affordable housing

SCARBOROUGH — Avesta Housing celebrated the opening of its Southgate Farm residence Oct. 23, completing a five-year effort to add 38 affordable living units to the town’s tight housing market.

“We know from our work here in southern Maine that there is a desperate need for housing, and we’re having a hard time filling the need at this current rate,” Avesta Development Officer Tyler Norod said in an interview Oct. 28. “There is a lack of workforce housing in Scarborough, so it made sense to be looking in this area.”

The 214-year-old farmhouse, located on U.S. Route 1, was purchased by the nonprofit affordable housing provider in 2014, and project plans were submitted to the town in 2015.

The celebration included an opening ceremony, speakers and apartment tours.

The Forecaster

Avesta celebrates opening of Scarborough housing development

Avesta Housing on Wednesday celebrated the opening of its Southgate Farm residence on U.S. Route 1 in Scarborough.

The conversion of the 214-year-old farmhouse, and an addition built by Avesta, adds 38 housing units to a tight market for affordable housing, officials of the nonprofit developer said.

“Maine is in need of more affordable housing for people from a variety of backgrounds,” Dana Totman, Avesta Housing president and CEO, said in a news release. “We’re pleased that the redevelopment of Southgate Farm has led to a safe, quality, affordable home for 38 households. It’s particularly special that with this development involved the preservation and resurrection of an important community landmark.”

Avesta received 1,600 requests from seniors for affordable housing in 2018, up 21% from the previous year.


Little snappers hatch at Fox

PARIS — The lawn of Fox Apartments, owned and operated by Avesta Housing, was full of new life Friday, Sept. 20, as freshly hatched snapping turtles emerged from their nests and began a quest to the Little Androscoggin River. This wasn’t the first time turtles have used the former school property as a nursery.

Carol Fanjoy, the building’s first apartment resident, spent ten years working as a custodian at the school.  When Fanjoy first moved in last April, she spoke of a mama turtle that had come up from the Little Androscoggin River one year to make a nest and lay eggs on what had been the playground.

This past June, residents noticed a snapping turtle digging holes and laying eggs on the lawn of the apartment complex. Management asked the maintenance worker, Jesse LaRue, to mark the areas so they wouldn’t be disturbed. Seven potential nests were identified and fenced in, LaRue said. Then the waiting for babies began.

Sun Journal

LIHTC Financing to Help Redevelop Maine Property

Boston Capital is investing in the preservation and redevelopment of Deering Place, a 75-unit mixed-income development for families and individuals in Portland, Maine.

The latest project by Portland-based nonprofit Avesta Housing, Deering Place will serve families earning 50% or less of the area median income.

“Deering Place represents our 14th investment with our partner Dana Totman and our friends at Avesta Housing,” said Jack Manning, president and CEO of Boston Capital. “Given the market’s incredible demand for affordable housing, we’re excited to be involved in the preservation, redevelopment, and expansion of housing in the historic Parkside neighborhood in downtown Portland.”

Affordable Housing Finance