Policy & Research
MaineHousing has helped Maine people own, rent, repair, and heat their homes since 1969. We are an independent state agency created to address unsafe, unsuitable, overcrowded, and unaffordable housing. A $2.1 billion financial institution with a staff of over 180 people, MaineHousing uses public-private partnerships to provide significant public benefit to Maine while using little state funding. We assist more than 90,000 Maine households a year and invest more than $300 million in the Maine economy annually.
Investments in privately owned housing
We raise funds from investors through bond sales (these bonds are a debt of MaineHousing and not the State of Maine) and federal grants, and do not receive state general fund money. The bonds we sell are tax-exempt and are known as mortgage revenue bonds. We use revenue from the bonds we sell to investors to make mortgages, and revenue from the mortgages to repay bond investors – and use the spread between the two to finance our operations (see How MaineHousing functions below).
Our investments are primarily in privately owned housing. We enable working families to purchase their first homes with affordable mortgages, finance development of privately owned affordable rental housing for families and seniors, and provide assistance to Maine's most vulnerable populations.
MaineHousing: Private methods for public purposes
MaineHousing was created by the Legislature in 1969 and is governed by a 10-member Board of Commissioners appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The agency director, also appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature, and the State Treasurer are ex-officio members.
The legislation enables us to take advantage of federal laws that allow states to raise private capital for public purposes. We have the authority to sell tax-exempt bonds and use the resulting capital to finance housing that is affordable for hard-working Mainers.
How MaineHousing functions
Today we are a $2.1 billion financial institution with the ability to issue bonds, to accept federal program dollars on behalf of the State, and to pursue other funding consistent with our mission. Our mission is to provide decent, safe, affordable housing to low and moderate-income Maine people consistent with their individual needs.
The tax-exempt bonds allow us to borrow funds at lower interest rates, which means we can loan the money as mortgages at lower interest rates for home purchases, development of affordable rental properties, home repairs, and energy improvements. We use revenue we receive from the mortgages to repay bond buyers, unlike government obligation bonds that taxpayers repay.
We function as Maine's housing finance agency and as the public housing authority for those parts of Maine without a local authority. This enables us to access federal programs to reduce housing costs for Mainers.
Resources generated from bond lending (the difference between what we owe investors and what we earn on our mortgages) and fees paid by federal programs provide us with funds to pay our operating costs and staff. No state funds are used to pay our operating expenses or staff salaries.
Maine's housing needs
With incomes below the national average, the cost burden for home heating among the highest in the country, and one of the nation's oldest housing stocks, it is no surprise that Maine has a substantial housing need. This need has been aggravated by home prices and rents increasing faster than incomes. MaineHousing provides data on housing affordability by region. Learn more on our Housing Facts page.
We use our resources to finance programs that address a variety of Maine's housing needs.
Contributions to Maine
More than 100,000 people benefit from MaineHousing programs and services each year. These benefits include affordable mortgages, affordable rental housing, heating assistance, improvements to make homes safe and warm, and housing for people who are homeless or have special needs.
Financing housing that is affordable to hard-working Mainers is our primary mission, but we contribute more than just housing to Maine's economy, including: