AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, the Maine Senate voted in favor of a bill from Sen. Cameron Reny, D-Bristol, that would invest in increasing affordable housing options in rural Maine communities. LD 724, “An Act to Increase Opportunities for the Development or Preservation of Low-income Housing,” received unanimous approval in an initial vote.
“All Mainers deserve the opportunity to live in safe, affordable homes, and our communities deserve the chance to grow and prosper. Unfortunately, Maine is facing a housing crisis. Working families, older Mainers and those just starting their careers can’t find affordable housing. This problem is hitting rural communities especially hard,” said Sen. Reny. “Investing in affordable housing in rural areas is an investment in our communities and our economic future. I’m grateful to my fellow Senators for their support of this bill.”
As amended by committee, the bill makes changes to low-income housing and programs administered by the Maine State Housing Authority (MSHA). Under the bill, MSHA would be allowed to make money available to developers of low-income housing units in more rural areas of the state. The bill also addresses what happens when a mortgage on a rental property that received special financing from MSHA because it was developed as affordable rental housing is impacted by a change that could make it no longer affordable housing. The bill provides that a local housing authority could have the option to buy the property to ensure that it remains affordable housing. Current law limits that option to MSHA. The bill also amends the law that governs state growth-related capital investments by permitting investment in a low-income housing project with up to 18 units for individuals with a household income of no more than 80% of the area median income.
LD 724 faces further votes in the Legislature.