Three years ago, $15 million in bonds was secured for senior housing and weatherization projects in rural Maine. Politics got in the way of releasing the money — which stood to be matched by federal funds of up to $22 million.
But there’s a new sheriff in town. Governor Mills is releasing these funds. Developers and senior assistance agencies can now apply to the Maine State Housing Authority for access to these funds for local projects.
This level of funding provides resources for at least 200 new, affordable units for seniors who don’t need as much space as they’ve had or can’t afford their existing homes. In addition, a portion of these funds will be set aside to make weatherization improvements to 100-200 older homes so that seniors who so choose can remain in their homes with lower energy costs.
The goal of these projects is to provide affordable, comfortable accommodations. Ellsworth and Machias have benefited from several of these projects. Residents have gained improved access to health care and are closer to services and shopping. Ellsworth seniors, in particular, have increased opportunity to become part of a supportive, active community while maintaining their independence.
Penquis and other developers are obviously happy to pursue these projects, as they know of the need for such housing. We hope Ellsworth and other Hancock County municipalities that meet the criteria for such development will soon see expanded options for our aging residents to remain in their communities and continue to make meaningful contributions while enjoying lower housing costs.