Specialized options rise in Portland’s search for shelter site

PORTLAND — It may be March before the public can weigh in on where the city puts a new shelter and service center for the homeless.

But as members of the City Council Health & Humans Services and Public Safety committees winnow down a list of 14 potential locations presented by city staff, details about potential partnerships for specialized housing and services are coming into focus.

Councilor Belinda Ray, the committee chairwoman, and Councilors Pious Ali and Brian Batson began discussing the site list Jan. 22, noting that nothing is final.

Plans still call for the city to build a 150-bed shelter and service center, but the  first and fastest site eliminated was the Barron Center property on Brighton Avenue.

The Forecaster

Portland officials identify 14 ‘reasonable’ sites for potential new homeless shelters

Portland officials have identified more than a dozen potential sites for city councilors to consider for one or more new homeless shelters.

The list of 14 sites identified as “reasonable” alternatives includes two parcels near the waterfront and downtown, as well as the former West School property in Libbytown and several others on the outskirts of the city.

The city staff will present the list to the council’s Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committee on Tuesday night.

City Manager Jon Jennings said staff members are asking the committee, which includes Councilors Pious Ali and Brian Batson, for input about which locations and models to explore further.

Portland Press Herald

Aging in place is not the way to go Aging in a community is a much better approach

MOST OF US can expect to live longer than ever before. This longevity bonus gives us more time to build the society we want, and we must start by considering how we’ll live as we grow old.

But for starters, we need to shift our thinking about what it is we really desire if we want to age affordably and live well.  We need to stop thinking about aging in place, but instead shift our thinking and planning towards aging in community.

There are two disturbing trends we need to consider:

First, most people have insufficient income and savings to meet ever-growing housing and medical costs as they get olderAccording to Fidelity Investments, the average baby boomer will need after-tax income of $4,800 per month starting at age 67 and will live to 92. Income from social security, pensions, and savings is projected to make up $2,700 of this amount. That leaves a monthly income gap of $2,100, a shortfall of 44 percent, with housing and health care costs key contributors to this family budget deficit. In Massachusetts, high housing costs have resulted in our ranking 49th among the states in elder economic security.

CommonWealth Magazine

Mills releases bonds for senior housing that LePage blocked for 3 years

AUGUSTA — Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed off Tuesday on a $15 million state borrowing package that was approved by voters more than three years ago and meant to bolster the state’s stock of affordable housing for senior citizens.

The bonding package was approved by voters in November 2015. Mills’ predecessor, Republican Gov. Paul LePage, refused to authorize the sale of the bonds, saying they were going to make a few people millionaires overnight, although LePage provided no proof of that. The bond sale will now go forward in June.

Mills said $500,000 would be made immediately available to help fund ongoing home repair and weatherization projects aimed at helping keep older Mainers living in their own homes safely and comfortably.

Portland Press Herald

See where housing is threatened in Maine because of the shutdown

The government shutdown could jeopardize the housing of more than 500 households in Maine that rely on federal assistance to afford their rent.

Those Mainers are among 70,000 to 85,000 low-income households across the country that could be destabilized within weeks as a result of the shutdown, according to a letter housing advocates issued Tuesday to U.S. congressional leadership.

The advocates’ most pressing concern involves a housing program that largely assists the elderly and people with disabilities, known as Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance. Administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the program is distinct from the Section 8 voucher program, which provides assistance directly to renters, and instead contracts with property owners to open their units to low-income families.

Bangor Daily News

Mills to authorize sale of long-stalled senior housing bonds

Gov. Janet Mills and Maine Treasurer Henry Beck plan to move forward with the sale of $15 million in senior housing bonds that were approved by voters three years ago but have yet to be tapped.

In November 2015, 69 percent of voters endorsed the $15 million borrowing package in order to help pay for construction of 225 units of badly needed senior housing and to weatherize or repair existing buildings. But in the years that followed, then-Gov. Paul LePage offered a range of reasons – some financial, others political – for his refusal to authorize the sale of the bonds.

Mills and Beck – both Democrats – indicated this week that they plan to act on the bonds.

“Governor Mills intends to sign the senior housing bonds in the coming weeks and, moving forward, will authorize the sale of voter-approved bonds in a timely manner,” said Mills spokesman Scott Ogden.

Portland Press Herald

Housing Affordability: How Feasible Is it to Buy or Rent a Home in Maine?

Maine faces many challenges when it comes to affordable housing, including one of the highest gaps in the nation between what people earn and what rental rates they pay. Economic development experts see this as a top priority to attracting young people to Maine. Parts of Maine, like Portland, are seeing huge surges in housing prices, while other areas are stagnant. We’ll look at the causes of the affordable housing shortage in Maine and learn about some possible solutions.


Maine Public

Avesta Housing, Androscoggin Bank announce new hires

Avesta Housing announced the following new hires:
Marcella Bryant recently joined Avesta as the strategic planning and research officer. Bryant was previously the director of data and evaluation at The Community Builders in Boston, where she worked for eight years.



Michael L. Rayder joined Avesta as the associate director of development. Rayder most recently served as the TD Charitable Foundation manager for 14 years.




Portland Press Herald

Four NH affordable housing projects awarded $6.7m in funding by Federal Home Loan Bank

Four New Hampshire affordable housing projects with a total of 133 units have been awarded a combined $6.7 million in grants and loans by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

The support, awarded to four New Hampshire banks through the FHLB’s Affordable Housing Program, is part of $46.6 million in funding given to 47 projects with 2,550 units around New England.

The grants and loans will be used to help pay construction, acquisition and rehabilitation costs. Member banks work with local developers to apply for funding, which is awarded through a competitive scoring process.

NH Business Review

Nine housing projects in Maine receive federal aid

More than $15.3 million in grants and loans have been awarded to help finance nine projects to provide affordable housing in Maine.

The financing packages were announced Monday by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston, a cooperative bank that provides financial housing aid in the six New England states.

The FHLB announced the financing for the Maine projects as part of $46.6 million in grants, loans and subsidies on interest rates for 47 housing initiatives in the region.

In Portland, a project to provide 22 rental units through Shalom House received a $935,695 grant and subsidy and a loan of nearly $1.5 million to provide support for those with serious mental illnesses and the homeless to integrate into the community. Norway Savings Bank is providing the local financing for the project, which will operate as a group home, with a carriage house providing housing for low-income families with a member who has a mental health disability.

Portland Press Herald