Agency believes multi-pronged approach to address needs is most efficient
For Immediate Release
Contact: Deborah Turcotte
MaineHousing Public Information Manager
AUGUSTA – Maine State Housing Authority (MaineHousing) Director John Gallagher today emphasized the agency’s commitment to affordable senior housing options. As one of the most complex issues facing our state with an aging population, MaineHousing is focused on a number of housing issues facing Maine seniors today.
The current $65 million general obligation bond proposal before lawmakers has put a focus on how to provide affordable housing for our growing elderly population. However, MaineHousing is exploring options and resources available to provide affordable senior housing without a general obligation bond.
“Through my conversations with Governor Paul LePage his support for the elderly is clear to me and I appreciate that support,” said Gallagher.
MaineHousing has participated in discussions with the Governor, legislators, affordable housing developers, advocacy groups, and others on this issue. In addition to new construction of housing units, alternatives include home repairs, modifications, and weatherization to allow seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible.
“We believe the senior housing issue is more complex than an effort to create 1,000 senior housing units in all of Maine’s 16 counties,” Gallagher said. MaineHousing’s primary multi-family affordable housing development financing program uses federal low-income housing tax credits. The credits are used to raise private capital. However, that capital only covers about 30% of the costs and most of the balance requires grant funds. These types of project are not well suited for our more rural counties.
MaineHousing creates 250-300 new affordable housing apartments every year, and about half of them are for seniors. Gallagher said it’s important to focus on the needs of seniors without neglecting the needs of others. “Our mission is to provide affordable housing opportunities for all of Maine’s people,” Gallagher said. “We have been providing a balanced approach; we don’t want to focus only on one group at the expense of others such as those who need supportive housing, family housing, or housing for those who are homeless.”
Gallagher said that in order to provide additional focus on seniors without ignoring other housing needs, MaineHousing recommends a multi-pronged approach:
- Provide weatherization and home repair programs for seniors who want to stay in their homes;
- Make available rental options for seniors and families in communities where services and employment options exist;
- Develop senior housing in conjunction with communities that support aging-friendly concepts;
- Work with the Department of Economic and Community Development and the Finance Authority of Maine to locate affordable housing projects that will support economic development;
- Require a “hot room” in every senior or special needs project to support internet medical connectivity with local hospitals and clinics, as well as emergency medical techs in emergencies, and visiting nurses and caregivers.
“In my tenure as director, I have used our resources as judiciously as possible to satisfy the many housing needs that exist: seniors, veterans, working families, individuals with special needs, and people who are homeless,” Gallagher said. “It is an effort I believe we should continue to take.”