Oct 10, 2016

Legislative Candidates Pledging Support for Affordable Senior Housing

Aging, Housing, and Construction Sector Leaders Release a List of More Than 160 State Legislative Candidates Supporting a Pledge to Release Senior Affordable Housing Bond.

PORTLAND - More than 160 candidates for the 128th Maine Legislature - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents alike - have signed a pledge to support legislation which would release the proceeds of the voter-approved Senior Affordable Housing Bond, if Governor LePage fails to do so by the time the next legislative session begins. 


The Senior Affordable Housing Bond, earmarked for the development of new units of safe, affordable senior housing and home repair services, was passed by a bipartisan super-majority of state legislators in 2015. The bond was then approved by nearly 70% of Maine voters last November. Despite this overwhelming support, Governor LePage still refuses to release the bond funds. At a town hall forum this past spring, the Governor proclaimed that he would never release the bond as long as he is Governor.


The bond was proposed in response to a growing unmet need for senior housing statewide. A 2015 study by a national research firm found that Maine already has a shorage of nearly 9,000 units of affordable housing available to low income older people. This shortage is projected to grow to more than 15,000 units by 2022 barring any change to the state's housing stock.


A survey released by the Maine Real Estate Managers Association this week found that the aggregate number of senior households on its members' waiting list has rsien to nearly 10,000 statewide. The wait times for affordable housing can be long and have significant impact on the lives of older Mainers.


However, due to inadequate resources, only 39 new affordable senior apartments have been added to Maine's stock so far this year. Community and municpal leaders all over Maine are eager for the development of these projects because they want to be able to help local residents remain in their own communities.


The bond has the strong support of AARP Maine, the Maine Council on Aging and more than 150 other businesses and organizations, including the Associated General Contractors of Maine, Associated Builders & Contractors of Maine, Maine Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, American Council of Engineering Companies of Maine, Maine Affordable Housing Coaltion, Maine Real Estate & Development Association, Maine Real Estate Managers Association, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland.


The $15 million bond would be used in combination with more than $22 million in loveraged resources to build highly energy-efficient homes for Maine seniors. The bond would also pay for needed repairs and weatherization of more than 100 existing homes, further supporting seniors who wish to remain safely in their own homes and communities.  The bond legislation ensures that rural and urban areas alike would benefiit from this initiative.  


"Without the release of these bond funds, the supply of affordable homes for Maine's seniors will continue to fall further behind the need," said Greg Payne, Director of the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition.  "Employing Maine workers to build the affordable homes that Maine seniors need is a smart and effective use of our state's bond capacity.  We urge the Governor to release the Senior Affordalbe Housing Bond as soon as possible, and are encouraged by the strong bipartisan response from legislative candidates seeking to ensure that the will of Miane voters is respected."


The full list of the 168 candidates for state legislative office signing the sneior housing bond pledge may be found here.