This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to pass a bond to build new homes and weatherize existing homes for older Mainers.
The Maine Legislature passed only 2 bonds out of a proposed 35, the remaining 33 carried over to next session. The bond package was capped at $100 million, $85 of which was allocated to a transportation bond.
The remaining $15 million was allocated to LD 1205, An Act to Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Support the Independence of Maine's Seni0rs.
The initial proposal was amended from $65 million to $15 million. This means that the $65 million for new construction was reduced to $14.5 million, and $1 million to weatherize existing homes was reduced to $500,000. The amended bill was further amended to require at least 4 projects to be located in counties having populations under 100,000.
The need for housing that is safe and accessible and affordable for older Mainers is critical. Right now there are over 9,000 Maine seniors on waiting lists for affordable housing. Some people wait just a short time, but others wait years.
We heard a story recently about a woman in her 80's who called an affordable housing developer because she needs to move into a more accessible and affordable home, and she was told she would have to wait for 5 or 6 years. She said, I don’t have that kind of time to wait! Many people in need of housing aren’t even on a waiting list.
We all know we are the oldest state in the nation, but what is not as commonly known is that we have the 8 th oldest housing stock. We all want to age in our own homes, but our homes are expensive to renovate to make aging in place a real possibility. These new units will be condos and apartments designed to be safe and accessible and affordable, with a priority given to projects that are close to downtown areas and include creative elements such as telemedicine.
LD 1205 is good for Maine. It creates jobs in the construction industry, revitalizes communities and provides new homes for older Mainers. We've fought hard for this issue. In March, over 12,000 AARP members from across the state participated in a tele-town hall about this very issue, and expressed their overwhelming support for a proactive solution to our housing need in Maine. Volunteers turned out at the State House to speak with legislators about the importance of housing. And in a moving display of support, rows of volunteers stood behind State President Rich Livingston as he testified in support of the bond before the Appropriations Committee.
We urge all Maine voters to support this important bond issue when they cast their ballot in November.