New Tax Bill Could Reduce Affordable Housing By Half, Advocates Say

As Congress moves through the process of potentially passing a major tax reform package, we’re still just starting to get a sense of what’s in the package now, what might be in the final plan and what the implications might be.

Advocates for affordable housing in Maine are saying the package could be disastrous both for preserving the affordable housing that already exists and for efforts to build new homes.

Maine Things Considered Host Nora Flaherty interviewed Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, in Portland Tuesday at a meeting of about 75 affordable housing organizations and advocates at the University of Southern Maine.

Nora Flaherty

Maine Public

House bill threatens financing tool for future low-income housing, other nonprofits

A provision in the House Republican tax reform bill could eliminate funding for hundreds of new low-income apartments and home loans in Maine, and might substantially increase construction costs for hospitals, colleges and other institutions.

Maine’s congressional delegation is rallying to try to save an obscure program called private activity bonds that was eliminated in the House version of a tax bill pending in Congress. Private activity bonds allow private, nonprofit institutions to sell bonds, with tax-free interest, to pay for capital improvements such as new buildings and infrastructure and to fund other programs like student loans.

Peter McGuire

Portland Press Herald

Parkside project set for Portland Planning Board hearing

PORTLAND — Avesta Housing’s plan to add 80 housing units in Parkside will face a Wednesday, Dec. 13, hearing before the Planning Board.

Deering Place would consist of 27 apartments at 61 Deering St., plus 33 new apartments, renovations to 13 and turning existing commercial space into seven apartments in a building at 510 Cumberland Ave.

The plans were last reviewed by the city Historic Preservation Committee on Nov. 29.

On Nov. 27, city councilors unanimously approved allocating $300,000 for the project from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development HOME funds. The City Council also established a tax increment finance zone with a credit enhancement agreement that returns 75 percent of increased property tax assessments to the nonprofit for 30 years.

David Harry

the Forecaster

Avesta Housing report details severe shortage of affordable housing

Demand for affordable housing in southern Maine greatly exceeds the available supply, according to Avesta Housing’s affordable housing activity report for the first three quarters of 2017.

Avesta Housing, a Portland-based nonprofit that has more than 80 properties and 2,400 apartments in its portfolio, reported that 2,077 households were on its waiting list for affordable housing at the end of September. From January through September, 2,980 households sought an affordable home from Avesta, which was only able to help 278 households, or 9% of the requests.

Monthly requests for affordable housing that Avesta receives have increased nearly 30% since 2014, Avesta reported in a news release announcing its report.


Nonprofit Says It Has Seen A Big Spike In People Seeking Affordable Housing

A nonprofit organization that owns 2,200 affordable housing units in southern Maine and southern New Hampshire says it has seen a large increase in the number of people seeking those accommodations.

Avesta Housing Development Officer Greg Payne says, through the first three quarters of this year, nearly 3,000 households have contacted the organization looking for an affordable place to live.

“But in that same period of time we were only able to help 278 households move into an apartment, and that’s because the housing that we do have is filled, for the most part, and there’s very limited turnover and there’s so few dollars available to create new housing,” he says.

Ed Morin

Maine Public

Press Release: Nonprofit Avesta Housing faces increasingly high demand for affordable housing

November 30, 2017
For Immediate Release
Contact: Sara Olson, Director of Development and Communications
cell: 207-317-3914 | email:

Nonprofit Avesta Housing faces increasingly high demand for affordable housing

Portland, MAINE — Avesta Housing has released its Affordable Housing Activity Report for the first three quarters of 2017.

Key findings:

  • Only 9% of households seeking affordable housing find housing with Avesta due to very high demand relative to vacancies
  • 2,077 households were on Avesta’s wait list for affordable housing at the end of September 2017

The monthly requests for affordable housing that Avesta receives have increased nearly 30% since 2014.

The entire Affordable Housing Activity Report can be found on Avesta’s website, in the Our News and Statistics section. The Affordable Housing Activity Report is a tool Avesta developed to provide key information about the local demand for affordable homes. Avesta tracks this data in a comprehensive way to better understand the region’s housing needs and the best ways to address them.

About Avesta Housing
Avesta Housing is a nonprofit affordable housing provider with over 40 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 has more than 80 properties and 2,400 apartments in its portfolio. 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, development, property management, senior and assisted living, and home ownership.

Avesta Housing pitches 64-unit mixed-use project in West End of South Portland

SOUTH PORTLAND — Avesta Housing submitted a much-anticipated proposal to city planners Thursday for a 64-unit housing project that would be built in the city’s West End neighborhood and target mostly low-income families.

The five-story West End Apartments would be built at 586 Westbrook St., site of Le Variety and the West End Neighborhood Resource Hub, and would include ground-level commercial space for both the convenience store and the social services agency, according to Avesta’s application.

The $13 million project is being developed in collaboration with store owner and entrepreneur Quang Nguyen of Portland, who purchased a small parcel next door last summer because he wanted Avesta to build housing on the combined properties.

Kelley Bouchard

Portland Press Herald

South Portland OKs tax subsidy for Avesta Housing project

SOUTH PORTLAND — An affordable housing plan for Redbank gained traction Monday night when city councilors approved placing the project in a tax increment financing district.

By a unanimous vote and with little comment, the City Council agreed to set aside an acre of land extending from 586-600 Westbrook St. as a TIF district under a 30-year credit enhancement agreement with Portland nonprofit Avesta Housing.

The agency plans to build a 64-unit building, with 52 of the units marketed as affordable.

David Harry

The Forecaster

Two proposed housing projects in Portland poised for $6.5 million in tax breaks

Portland is poised to offer $6.5 million in tax breaks for two separate housing projects that could add 135 units of housing, more than half of which would be considered affordable.

The City Council will vote Monday on the two proposals for Tax Increment Financing, which returns a portion of property taxes generated from new developments to the property owner, rather than providing an upfront cash subsidy.

The Portland Housing Authority would receive $2.1 million in tax breaks for its 55-unit project proposed for Boyd Street, while Avesta Housing would get $4.4 million for its 80-unit project on Cumberland Avenue.

Randy Billings

Portland Press Herald

Portland approves more affordable housing

PORTLAND (WGME) – More affordable housing is coming to the city of Portland.

City councilors gave the green light to two separate proposals to build and renovate buildings in the city.

City councilors unanimously voted for both projects.