October 29, 2015–In less than a week, Maine voters will have a chance to help more low-income seniors stay in their homes or their communities. Statewide Question 2 on the ballot would authorize a $15 million Senior Affordable Housing Bond that would create 225 affordable, energy efficient rental homes for seniors across the state – in both urban and rural areas. The bond would also fund home repair and weatherization, allowing at least 100 seniors to remain in their homes.
CEI wholeheartedly urges voters to support this bond. Our mission is to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential. In a rapidly aging state with the eight oldest housing stock in the nation, decent, affordable housing for our older citizens is a big part of a healthy community. When a grandmother on a fixed income can’t afford to heat her home, or when an elderly retired couple can no longer afford the market rents and has to leave their hometown, that’s not good for them, and it’s not good for the fabric of our communities.
As a developer and a lender as well as a housing counselor, CEI sees first-hand the need for more housing options for low- and moderate income seniors. When there’s a statewide shortage of 9,000 units for low income seniors, this bond won’t come close to solving the problem. But it will make a difference. State and federal resources are limited, and the private market alone does not and will not create housing that’s affordable to the number of low-income seniors who need it.
One of the aspects of this bond that is particularly important is its rural impact. At least four projects will be built in rural counties where housing resources are scarce and the need is just as great. As a rural, statewide practitioner, CEI is committed to supporting businesses, jobs, and housing all across the state, in every county and in the smaller communities that truly need economic development. If this senior bond passes, it will help provide that economic boost and the hope for seniors to age in dignity and in their own communities.
Please vote YES on statewide Question 2!
Laura Buxbaum is Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Resource Development at Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), a statewide non-profit Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) based in Brunswick.