SOUTH PORTLAND — The west end resource center that serves as a clearing house for a range of social services targeted at some of South Portland’s neediest residents is slated for a move to new digs.
City councilors voiced unanimous support for the project at a Nov. 6 workshop and are expected to sign a deal with Avesta Housing that commits the city to move the center, known as The Hub, from a trailer parked at 586 Westbrook St., to a new affordable housing complex Avesta plans to build in cooperation with Le Variety owner Quang Nguyen in its place, at 600 Westbrook St.
“I like what I’ve seen so far, and I’m pleased that Avesta and Kaplan Thompson Architects have been proactive in gathering input from the residents of the neighborhood,” said Adrian Dowling, newly elected to the city council to represent West End District 5, following a neighborhood meeting on the project Nov. 8. “This project, a partnership between a private business owner, a nonprofit organization and the city, could become a model for other Maine communities that are trying to address the problem of unaffordable housing.”
Avesta Housing, the Portland-based nonprofit provider of affordable housing, recently announced two winners of its first-ever educational scholarship.
Dina Malual and Pamela Muzika each received $1,000 towards their tuition expenses at Emmanuel College in Boston and Babson College, in Wellesley, Mass., respectively.
Avesta said that the two were selected out of numerous applicants because of their strong applications outlining their commitment to education to improve their lives and communities.
For Immediate Release
November 13, 2017
Contact: Sara Olson, Director of Development & Communications
Cell: 207-317-3914; Email: SOlson@AvestaHousing.org
Avesta Housing Awards First Educational Scholarships
PORTLAND, MAINE – Nonprofit affordable housing provider Avesta Housing recently announced two winners of its first ever educational scholarship. Dina Malual and Pamela Muzika each received $1,000 toward their tuition expenses at Emmanuel College and Babson College respectively.
Malual and Muzika were among numerous applicants for the scholarship, and were selected because of their strong applications outlining their commitment to education to improve their lives and communities. Malual is a freshman at Emmanuel College and Muzika is a senior at Babson College where she studies business management with a double concentration in accounting and real estate.
Avesta Housing President & CEO Dana Totman spoke highly of the scholarship winners, “Dina and Pamela represent the best of the next generation of thoughtful citizens and global thinkers. Avesta is honored to know these young women and offer our support in furthering their education.”
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, home ownership, and assisted living.
SOUTH PORTLAND — A new housing, retail and community center project on the city’s West End is one step closer to happening.
Avesta Housing officials met with about 16 community members Nov. 8 in the Brick Hill Heights’ community room, 80 Brickhill Ave., to discuss plans for a five-story building at 586-600 Westbrook St. that will include low-income and market-rate housing.
On Nov. 6 a City Council workshop was also held on the proposed project. The next step will be going before the Planning Board by the beginning of December to meet a deadline for Maine State Housing Authority paperwork to be submitted by Feb. 8, 2018.
Avesta Housing and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce announced on Friday their opposition to Portland’s Question 2, a citizens’ initiative on the city’s Nov. 7 ballot that would allow a zoning change to be blocked if 25% of voters who live within 500 feet of a zoning change file written objections.
The referendum question, however, would provide a way for a developer to override a citizens’ veto — if 51% of registered voters within 1,000 feet of the disputed zoning change approved the rezoning within 45 days.
Avesta and the chamber reviewed recent and current development projects and, based on future projections, determined that if voters approve Portland’s Question 2, in their opinion “it would have a serious and negative impact on growth in Portland and the region.”
Opponents of Portland’s ballot measure to limit rent increases, known as Question 1, have argued that the way it would alter the eviction process for many landlords and tenants in the city would violate state law.
Attorneys who specialize in landlord-tenant issues in Maine disagree on the extent to which the proposed ordinance would conflict with existing eviction statutes. But some agreed that it would create initial confusion and probably be challenged in court by landlords.
Among their criticisms was that the proposed rules would make it impossible to quickly evict serious problem tenants, and that it would force landlords into a mediation process that lacks the authority to enforce its decisions.
For Immediate Release
November 3, 2017
Contact: Ben Bulkeley, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce
Phone: 207-772-2811 ext. 233; firstname.lastname@example.org
Study shows that Question 2 would severely limit growth, jobs, and affordable housing in Portland
Avesta Housing and the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce reviewed recent and current development projects and, based on future projections, determined that if voters pass Portland’s Question 2 on November 7, it would have a serious and negative impact on growth in Portland and the region.
The review looked at Portland development projects made possible by zone changes that were completed in the last five years, are currently being permitted for construction, permitted to begin construction, or under construction. The findings indicate the projects represent:
- Nearly $1.4 billion in value
- 2,600 units of much needed housing
- Nearly 33,000 construction jobs
If Question 2 passes, it could put some of these future projects in jeopardy by allowing a minority of abutters to overturn the democratic process by which projects are approved. Portland’s Question 2 would change the City Code and allow 25 percent of registered voters abutting a project (within 500 feet) veto power over proposed zoning text changes or zoning map amendments. If passed, the veto power would be in the hands of a relatively small number of residents, without input from the planning board, Portland City Council, or the remaining residents of Portland.
“Portland has come a long way in the past 30 years and has continued to pick up steam as a hub of culture and economic activity for the Greater Portland area and indeed the entire state,” said Quincy Hentzel, Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO. “We still have our challenges, such as work force capacity, job creation and business investment, and therefore need to continue to advance Portland on its path to progress. If Question 2 passes, it would stop that growth in its tracks.”
The Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce has come out against Question 2, citing the effect it would have on important community resources, such as affordable housing developments, hospital expansions, and the proposed cold storage facility.
The potential for a small number of abutters to potentially derail essential projects would slow the investment momentum Portland is currently enjoying, and serve to make the housing shortage worse.
This conclusion is supported by Dana Totman, President and CEO of Avesta Housing. “Question 2 would stifle and block development in the city of Portland, particularly when it comes to affordable housing – which often requires a zoning change. I am frankly not surprised about the $1.5 billion in projects relying on zone changes, as the majority of affordable housing developments in Portland have needed minor zone changes.”
About Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce
The Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce is the largest business membership and advocacy organization in the Portland Regional. It represents more than 1,250 member businesses and organizations and more than 65,000 employees throughout the Portland Region. For more information, visit www.portlandregion.com
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, home ownership, and assisted living. www.AvestaHousing.org
Leaders of several affordable housing groups say they’re concerned that a proposal to limit rents and protect renters in Portland will worsen problems that low-income renters face.
Say No to Rent Control, which is opposing Question 1 on the Nov. 7 city ballot, released statements Wednesday from leaders of Avesta Housing, Community Housing of Maine, Shalom House, New England Investment Fund and MaineHousing, saying they are worried about unintended consequences of the citizen initiative, which would establish an ordinance aimed at stabilizing rents in Maine’s largest city.
Cullen Ryan, executive director of Community Housing of Maine, the largest housing provider for homeless people in Maine, said the ordinance could make it more difficult for low-income and homeless people to find a landlord willing to rent to them.
The basic premise of Housing First is simple. If someone is experiencing chronic homelessness – meaning they are continuously homeless for a year or more,or have had four or more episodes of
homelessness in three years – they are provided housing first and then given the support they need to work on other issues they may have.
Before Housing First became an accepted and proven model, people would often receive housing only after they met certain thresholds, such as sobriety, employment, or treatment for mental illness.
Portland needs to address its affordable-housing crisis with policies that would encourage new construction and help renters who are priced out of the market.
If such a policy were on the ballot this year, we would support it, but unfortunately, that is not the case.
We urge Portland voters to say “no” to Question 1 on the city ballot.
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