Gov. Janet Mills (D) announced earlier this week that Madison will be getting a new 36 unit affordable housing development funded by a variety of state programs, according to a press release published by the governor’s office.
Located at 55 Weston Avenue, the development is geared toward providing housing accommodations for employees of companies such as New Balance and TimberHP, both of which have recently expanded their operations in Maine.
The first 18 units — spread across two separate buildings — are expected to be completed by late next Spring.
Going forward, the plan is to construct another 18 units, as well as a public park.
The Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program — a $20 million initiative included in the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan — provided an initial $2.9 million in funding for the development.
The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan distributed nearly $1 billion in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan into a number of projects, including the development of affordable housing.
During her time in office, Mills has spent a significant sum of taxpayers dollars on incentivizing and supporting the creation of affordable housing throughout the state.
In this year’s biennial budget, an additional $35 million was directed toward the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program, which is expected to lead to the construction of more than 300 homes throughout the state.
Since taking office in 2019, Mills has spent roughly $285 million on incentivizing affordable housing development, compared to a total of $65 million from 2000 to 2018.
When Maine’s Budget Stabilization Fund — commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund — reached its statutory maximum earlier this year, Mills made the decision to direct the additional money toward affordable housing efforts.
As part of these efforts, $65 million was allocated to MaineHousing — $35 million of this was put toward the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program, while the remaining $30 million was used to “incentivize the production of low-income housing” by establishing the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
“Innovative businesses are creating good-paying jobs in Madison and Skowhegan, but too many workers and job seekers are struggling to find a nearby home or apartment they can afford,” Mills said in this week’s press release, referring to the new development.
“This exciting project, made possible by an investment from my Jobs plan, will enable dozens of Maine families to make their home in Madison and help businesses like New Balance and TimberHP find the workers they need to sustain their promising growth,” Mills said. “My Administration will continue to work to increase the availability of comfortable, affordable housing options across Maine.”
The press release from the governor’s office also quoted others who have been involved in the Madison affordable housing project.
For example, Sam Hight — a project partner on the development — spoke about how state funding and partnerships have made the Madison project possible.
“Our partnership with the Town of Madison, the State of Maine, MaineHousing, and ultimately, our local contractors have allowed this project to be economically feasible,” Hight said.
“Considering the current housing material market, interest rate landscape, and general uncertainty, we are very fortunate to have the ability to build and provide 18 affordable homes to a rural Maine community undergoing economic growth,” Hight stated. “Without the funding from the state and the financing from MaineHousing, it would be difficult and nearly impossible to be at this exciting moment.”
Expanding access to affordable housing in Maine has been a priority of the state’s government for some time now.
Signed into law in April of last year, LD 2003 imposed a number of one-size-fits-all zoning mandates on municipalities in the name of expanding access to affordable housing throughout the state.
The effective elimination of single-family residential zoning, as well as increased density allowances for affordable housing developments, are among the changes brought about by this legislation.
Municipalities have until either January or July of next — depending upon the structure of their local government — to incorporate these alternations into their town codes.
According to a report recently published by the state government, Maine is predicted to need roughly 84,000 new housing units by 2030 in order to accommodate the current lack of supply and the expected increase in demand.