Maine Housing to Expand Affordable Rental Housing

Governor Mills & Maine Housing Announce $20 Million to Expand Affordable Rental Housing in Rural Maine

Augusta, ME (STL.News) Governor Janet Mills and Maine Housing announced the launch of a $20 million program supported by the Governor’s Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan to tackle Maine’s housing shortage by expanding the availability of affordable rental housing across rural Maine.

The Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program will provide funding to build smaller affordable rental housing units. Under the program, projects must be between 5 and 18 units in size and may either be new construction, rehabilitation of existing housing, or reuse of existing buildings into livable spaces for low- and moderate-income households.

The program is funded with $10 million from the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, the plan proposed by Governor Mills and approved by the Legislature to invest nearly $1 billion in American Rescue Plan Act to support Maine’s economic recovery from the pandemic.  It is also funded with $10 million from Maine Housing using money the agency gained last year by refinancing existing bonds and purchasing new bonds at lower interest rates or from the agency’s Housing Opportunities for Maine (HOME) fund.

“I come from western Maine, so I know firsthand that our rural communities offer an extraordinary quality of life – a quality of life that I want every person in Maine who desires it to enjoy fully,” said Governor Janet Mills.  “But the lack of affordable housing in rural areas, to buy or to rent, is a real barrier.  This program through my Jobs Plan is meant to tackle that problem and ensure that Maine people will have access to housing they can afford so they can put down roots and contribute to the success of our state.  I thank Maine Housing for its partnership on this important project.”

“This effort is a new and innovative approach, providing meaningful development capital for smaller projects in more rural parts of Maine,” said Maine Housing Director Daniel Brennan.  “The creation of this program is a positive step forward in ensuring equity in affordable housing creation for all parts of Maine.”

To address the shortage of affordable housing, the rural housing program will provide zero percent interest, forgivable loans, and funding for acquisition and substantial rehabilitation or construction of affordable rental housing units. Housing units built or rehabilitated by the program will need to be maintained as affordable, as measured based on area’s median household income, for 45 years.

More details, including application guidelines, on the rural housing program can be found online at www.mainehousing.org/ruralhousing

The rural housing program is the latest in series of significant actions by Governor Mills to expand affordable housing in Maine.  One of Governor Mills’ first actions in office was to release $15 million in bonds, held up by the previous administration, that have funded affordable housing units for Maine seniors across the state.

She also signed into law a bill sponsored by House Speaker Ryan Fecteau creating the Maine Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program, an $80 million investment over eight years that represents the single largest state investment in housing in Maine’s history.  Two weeks ago, Governor Mills signed LD 2003 and LD 201 to further expand the availability of affordable housing in Maine.

Through the Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan, Governor Mills invested $50 million for affordable and workforce housing initiatives through Maine Housing.  The first, a $10 million program to build up to 150 single-family homes, was announced in January.

The Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan is the Governor’s plan, approved by the Legislature, to invest nearly $1 billion in Federal American Rescue Plan funds to improve the lives of Maine people and families, help businesses, create good-paying jobs, and build an economy poised for future prosperity.

It draws heavily on recommendations from the Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee and the State’s 10-Year Economic Development Strategy, transforming them into real action to improve the lives of Maine people and strengthen the economy.