South Portland council sets stage for changes in West End, Meetinghouse Hill

SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council approved zoning changes Monday that pave the way for new housing and businesses in the West End, and a new coffee shop on Cottage Road in Meetinghouse Hill.

Councilors also approved the first reading of two marijuana ordinances that would spell out city zoning and licensing rules.

With little discussion, the council approved amendments in the West End that combine eight zones into four, three of which will be new. The new zoning will attempt to create a neighborhood core, and allow a proposed multi-use building with 130-140 apartments.

Councilor Brad Fox, who lives in the West End, has been instrumental in the planning process. Prior to the unanimous vote, he said “You’ve read about it,  you’ve heard about it. We’re all excited about it.  Let’s do it.”

Melanie Sochan

The Forecaster

So. Portland measures set to boost business, housing

SOUTH PORTLAND — The city moved forward with first readings on two zoning changes on Monday that could affect the city’s housing stock and bring new businesses to the city.  The measures both require second readings for final approval.

West End

The council unanimously approved a text and zone map change for the West End to pave the way to make changes in line with the West End Master Plan, which council adopted on Aug. 21. Zoning changes are needed to implement the plan.

The plan encompasses Brick Hill and Redbank neighborhoods and parts of Westbrook Street and Western Avenue and includes an earlier public-private proposal to build affordable housing.

Avesta Housing and Quang Nguyen, owner of Le Variety, want to create a mixed-use building that could include apartments for 130-140 residents.

Melanie Sochan

The Forecaster

Apartment complex for chronically homeless people opens in Portland

Avesta Housing and Preble Street have opened Portland’s third “housing first” program, Huston Commons, which is now home to 30 formerly homeless individuals with chronic health challenges.

Located near Morrill’s Corner at 72 Bishop St. in Portland, Huston Commons was named for Steve Huston, a former Preble Street employee who experienced and overcame homelessness and who was an eloquent and forceful advocate for housing first. “We all deserve the dignity of … a home,” he once said.

“The men and women at Huston Commons have not known stability or security for much of their lives,” Mark Swann, executive director of Preble Street, said in a news release. “But in this supported environment tenants no longer have to deal with the stress and danger of the streets and begin to hope, to heal, to work on recovery, and create community. Even just after a month, you can see — often literally — what a difference a home makes.”

MaineBiz

Portland unveils new apartment complex to house the homeless

PORTLAND (WGME) – Tuesday in Portland, many people attended the grand opening of a new apartment complex that houses people in the area who are homeless.

The project is the third of its kind in the city.

The companies Avesta Housing and Preble Street combined to create the Huston Commons, which will house 30 homeless people in the Portland area.

WGME

Portland Opens Third Apartment Complex for Homeless

Portland, Maine (WMTW) 30 Mainers who were homeless now have a place to live.

The full-furnished efficiency apartments are home to Mainers who had been living on the streets or in shelters for years.Officials with the city of Portland opened Huston Commons Tuesday morning near Morrill’s Corner.

This is the third such complex in Portland, and the city says apartments like these are already providing a major benefit for those who now call them home.

WMTW

New housing complex offers home to homeless

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER)– Some members of Portland’s homeless population now have a place to call home.

Preble Street officially opened the third complex of its Housing First initiative: Houston Commons, an apartment complex designed to help the chronically homeless by providing a permanent place for them to live. Huston Commons houses 30 people who have been living on the streets of the city for years.

Katharine Bavoso

WCSH

Housing first helps both the homeless and the community

Twelve years ago, Avesta Housing and Preble Street opened the doors to Logan Place, the first “housing first” community in Maine. Housing first is an evidence-based, cost-effective approach to ending chronic homelessness. It focuses on getting our most vulnerable neighbors housed as quickly as possible while ensuring that they have ongoing access to critical support services. Avesta is the developer, owner and property manager for Logan Place, while Preble Street provides 24-7 support services for the 30 residents who had experienced chronic homelessness before moving into their new home.

When we opened Logan Place, it was a huge risk. No one else in Maine, and very few people anywhere else in the country, had done anything like this. We were essentially putting millions of dollars and our nonprofit organizations’ reputations on the line to test a new approach to housing Portland’s most vulnerable population – people who had already struggled enormously to stay housed. But the remarkable results have proven to be more than worth the risk.

On the night Logan Place opened, the number of people using the city overnight shelter at Oxford Street decreased for the first time in 20 years. Moreover, after moving into Logan Place, the residents reduced their nights in jail by 88 percent, their visits to the emergency room by 70 percent, and their contacts with police by 81 percent. The data have revealed that housing first is not only more humane, but also less costly than the endless cycle of shelters, emergency rooms, jails, and detox programs that chronically homeless people otherwise endure year after year.

Dana Totman, President and CEO of Avesta Housing

via Op-Ed to the Portland Press Herald

Portland Council OKs Zoning Incentives For Low-Income Housing Development

In an effort to increase low- and middle-income housing opportunities in Portland, city councilors have approved zoning incentives for development along some city corridors and in certain commercial areas.

Jeff Levine, planning and urban development director for the City of Portland, says the city was hearing from affordable housing developers that they were getting outbid for properties they were trying to buy on the private market.

Grand Opening of Portland’s 3rd Housing First Program

PORTLAND, ME (September 7, 2017) — On Tuesday, September 12 at 10am Avesta Housing and Preble Street celebrate Portland’s third “housing first” program, Huston Commons. The apartment building is now home to 30 formerly homeless individuals with chronic health challenges.

“The men and women at Huston Commons have not known stability or security for much of their lives,” said Mark Swann, Preble Street Executive Director. “But in this supported environment tenants no longer have to deal with the stress and danger of the streets and begin to hope, to heal, to work on recovery, and create community. Even just after a month, you can see—often literally—what a difference a home makes.”

Like Logan Place and Florence House which Preble Street and Avesta Housing opened in 2005 and 2010, respectively, Huston Commons will change and sometimes save the lives of the tenants, who include:

  • 3 veterans
  • 8 women
  • 12 people who have been living and sleeping outside for years
  • 13 people who were “long-term stayers” in the local shelter system, having spent thousands of nights at emergency shelters

“Portland’s affordable housing and homeless crisis is as challenging as we have ever seen. Huston Commons will change 30 lives, more than any other housing initiative this year,” said Avesta Housing President & CEO, Dana Totman.

In addition to helping vulnerable people and making a demonstrable difference in the city’s overcrowded emergency shelters, Huston Commons saves the community money. As has been proven over and over again, “housing first”—permanent housing with supportive services—is cheaper than the endless cycle of shelters, emergency rooms, jails, detox programs that chronically homeless people endure year after year. Housing first is the most humane and cost-effective solution to chronic homelessness.

Developed and owned by Avesta Housing, Huston Commons operates in partnership with Preble Street and Portland Housing Authority. Avesta Housing manages the building, and Preble Street provides on-site staffing, including social work services for tenants. Portland Housing Authority provides project-based rental assistance, which allows tenants to limit their rent payments to 30% of their income, while HUD funds cover the balance.

Each fully-furnished efficiency apartment is highly insulated and features water-conserving fixtures and features, a high-efficiency heating system, low or no-VOC paints and materials, and Energy Star-qualified appliances, lighting, and fixtures.

Huston Commons, located near Morrill’s Corner, was named for Steve Huston, a former Preble Street employee who experienced and overcame homelessness and who was an eloquent and forceful advocate for housing first. As Steve said, “We all deserve the dignity of … a home.”

What: Huston Commons Grand Opening

Where: Huston Commons, 72 Bishop Street, Portland, Maine, 04103

When: Tuesday, September 12, 2017

 10am: Coffee and donuts

 10:15am: Program

  • Ethan Strimling, Mayor, City of Portland
  • Michael Sauschuck, Chief of Police, City of Portland
  • Stephanie & Steven Huston, children of Steve Huston
  • Mark Swann, Executive Director, Preble Street
  • Dana Totman, President & CEO, Avesta Housing

10:45am: Apartment tours

Interviews with Huston Commons tenants are available upon request.

Preble Street is a nonprofit social work agency serving the most vulnerable people in Maine since 1975 through innovative, best-practice, client-centered programs that respond to and prevent hunger and homelessness. In addition to the largest emergency food service program in northern New England, Preble Street operates 14 low-barrier programs throughout Maine providing 24/365 services for individuals and families living in poverty, including homeless youth, women, veterans, and victims of human trafficking, driven by its mission to meet urgent needs, empower people to move beyond the crises in their lives, and advocate for solutions to homelessness, hunger, and poverty. www.PrebleStreet.org

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 2,200 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

Preble Street Press Release

September 7th, 2017