At each of our properties, Avesta Housing strives to create an environment that serves the needs of its residents and the neighborhood in which they live. This includes providing activities and amenities that promote physical activity, team bonding and community good will.
Two of our communities, Hyacinth Place and Steeple Square in Westbrook, Maine, have more than 100 youths ages 6 to 18. The properties share a park that is used for communal gatherings, gardening, and recreational activities. We were alerted to the need for a basketball court in the park through an annual needs assessment, as the nearest one was located a mile and a half away and required children to walk across a major commuter road.
“Getting kids outside and engaged in outdoor activity is an essential component of a healthy, safe community,” said Marguerite Walz, resident service coordinator for Hyacinth House and Steeple Square. “When they are idle, they tend to cause more trouble, so we are always looking for ways to keep them busy and give them structured activity.”
To make the basketball court a reality, Avesta worked closely with members of the community and received a matching grant from the Cornelia Warren Community Association, a nearly 100-year-old organization dedicated to benefiting the citizens of Westbrook. Construction on the fenced, regulation-sized court was completed in summer 2019, and we marked the occasion with a grand opening barbecue.
Today, the basketball court is used not just by residents of Hyacinth Place and Steeple Square, but by people from throughout the neighborhood—an example of how Avesta Housing strives to improve the communities in which our properties are located.
As the real estate market in Maine continues to break sales records, the availability of affordable housing is becoming extremely scarce. This is especially evident in downtown Portland, where skyrocketing home prices and rent threaten to displace the city’s working class.
Deering Place Apartments, Avesta Housing’s latest development in Portland, is providing hope for these and other low- to moderate-income residents. A mix of existing and new construction, this community is providing housing in a densely populated area at a time when the need has never been greater.
The campus consists of 75 units in three apartment complexes located on contiguous lots in the historic Parkside neighborhood: 63 Deering St., a new building; 61 Deering St., a renovated structure; and 510 Cumberland Ave., an adaptive reuse of an existing one-story building and parking area with a new addition.
Avesta Housing purchased the property in 2016 from the Opportunity Alliance, a community action agency that serves more than 20,000 people annually throughout Maine. The two nonprofit organizations have long had a close relationship, so when the Opportunity Alliance moved to another Portland location, selling the Parkside property to Avesta was the logical choice. The campus’ proximity to nearby schools, medical facilities, public transit, employment opportunities, recreational areas and other downtown amenities made it an ideal location for a new affordable housing project in the city.
The campus is a mixture of affordable, rent-restricted, and market share housing. Apartments range from studios to three bedrooms, and heat and hot water are included in the rent. Onsite amenities include a community room, laundry rooms, snow and garbage removal, and limited off-street parking.
As with all its properties, Avesta works with residents of Deering Place to ensure they receive the assistance and accommodations that they need. Some of the apartments are being rented by graduates of PSL Services’ Strive U, which teaches adults ages 18-24 with emotional and intellectual disabilities the skills needed to live independently. (Click here to view a recent TV news report on Avesta’s relationship with Strive U.)
Maureen and Brian McAdams, who recently moved into Deering Place, were experiencing financial problems due to the cost of Brian’s cancer treatment. Avesta helped them receive rent relief, made adjustments to their apartment to make mobility easier, and secured two handicapped spots in the parking area for their use.
“Everything is close to everything I need,” said Maureen. “The staff has been so helpful and friendly.”
Although work on Deering Place is behind schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shortage of material and labor, we anticipate that everything will be complete by the end of August. Most of the apartments are fully leased and occupied, providing what is at the core of Avesta Housing’s mission: giving people a safe, affordable place to call home.
For more information about Deering Place, click here.
In a perfect world, we can help everyone, but in the reality of our finite resources in Maine, we need to help those who need it most: people who could not otherwise live in safe, high-quality and affordable homes. Maine needs to embark on a campaign to build 20,000 affordable rental homes for those with the lowest incomes and for those paying over 50 percent of their income on housing. One thousand new affordable rental homes for 20 years will get us there.
Let’s hold ourselves accountable.”
By Dana Totman, Avesta Housing President and CEO
PORTLAND, Maine — Housing advocates say low-wage earners looking for an affordable place to live are often becoming “desperate.”
The federal moratorium on evictions, intended to protect struggling renters during the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to expire at the end of July.
Dana Totman, Director of Avesta Housing which creates and runs affordable housing units, says the nonprofit is answering up to 500 phone calls per week from Mainers seeking help.
307 Cumberland Avenue
Portland, ME 04101
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Appointments are available by request.
If you require assistance in filling out your application, please call: 207-553-7777 to schedule an appointment.
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Exeter, NH 03833
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