GrowSmart Maine Update: Affordable Housing and More

10 Oct 2018 7:29 AM | Maine Association of Planners (Administrator)
There may be no topic so important yet potentially misunderstood these days as “affordable housing.” As housing prices ratchet up yet again, people concerned about the future of their town can be heard debating: What is affordable housing? Do we really want it here? What happens if we just let the other towns solve this problem? How about affordable housing just for seniors? And, “Is affordable housing even possible in this time of high land prices and building materials?”

In response to this, GrowSmart Maine hosted a recent Kennebunk forum on affordable housing in an effort to clarify the different kinds, and the many benefits. Many coastal-area towns are seeing housing prices rise to the point that seasonal out-of-staters seem to be the primary buyers of what used to be considered middle-class housing.

Matthew Peters headed up the forum, talking about the impact high-cost housing is having on Maine communities, including the long-term effects of growing seasonal populations. While some towns fear the added costs that families bring to a town budget, Matt pointed out the many proven benefits to a well-rounded community, including economic development and an active volunteer population.

Matt specifically talked about adding affordable housing to a town’s housing mix and how higher density housing can be seen as an asset. Matt’s presentation, appropriate for planning boards, comprehensive plan committees and other interested residents, can be found here

Matt is the President of Elysian Enterprises, a real estate development and consulting firm based in Portland, and Executive Director of Freeport Housing Trust, a non-profit providing affordable homes in Freeport, Maine. 

And for those of you whose communities are looking at restricting Airbnb, here’s an alternative view: a link to a recent New York Times opinion piece wondering if Airbnb shouldn’t be today’s version of the boarding houses that provided an affordable place to live for so many at the turn-of-the-century. 

What’s next? 

On Thursday, November 15, 2018 from 4-7pm at the Topsham Public Library, GrowSmart Maine will host a forum on, “Rethinking Commercial Strip Development to Strengthen Your Community.” 

Towns and small cities in Maine face numerous challenges in redeveloping their commercial corridors in an attractive, thoughtful, inclusive, and economically beneficial way. The forum includes lessons from various communities, sharing different perspectives (board, developer, planner), and will focus on how to maximize the potential for success. Learn how towns can improve the appearance and functionality of their commercial strips to bring in new residents, employees and “feet on the street.” 

--Carol Morris, Board Member, GrowSmart Maine and President, Morris Communications

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