Reny introduces bill to invest in affordable housing options in rural Maine

Posted: April 14, 2023 | Senator Reny

AUGUSTA – On Friday, Sen. Cameron Reny, D-Bristol, introduced a bill that would invest in increasing affordable housing options in rural Maine communities. LD 724, “An Act to Expand Workforce Housing in Rural Maine by Funding the Maine State Housing Authority’s Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Housing.

Senator Cameron Reny

“Our rural communities are facing an ongoing affordable housing crisis that disproportionately impacts Maine families with low to moderate incomes. This crisis affects not only the well-being of our citizens, but also the growth and stability of our local economies,” said Sen. Reny. “All Mainers deserve the opportunity to live in safe, affordable homes, and our communities deserve the chance to grow and prosper. Investing in affordable housing in rural areas has the potential to fill vacant jobs, stimulate economic growth, and preserve our communities.”

LD 724 would provide $10 million each year for the next two fiscal years to the Rural Affordable Rental Housing Program within the Maine State Housing Authority. The program funds smaller-scale developments generally between 5 to 18 units to fill a critical gap in Maine’s housing portfolio, particularly in smaller communities.

“To date, this program has seen great uptake from partners in the private sector with projects underway in towns like Presque Isle and Norway. The initial allocation through the MJRP has been committed,” said Greg Payne, with the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, in testimony supporting the bill. “… The Administration believes this program is a key tool for addressing the state’s housing shortage and the funds will be deployed to help put more housing units online as quickly as possible.”

“LD 724 would substantially invest in neighborhoods across Maine, fulfilling multiple public purposes: Job creation, increased affordable housing, the bettering of existing housing stock, neighborhood improvement, community investment, and serving homeless and vulnerable populations,” said Cullen Ryan, Executive Director of Community Housing of Maine.

Maine Farmland Trust and Coastal Enterprises Inc. also submitted testimony in favor of the bill.

LD 724 faces further action in committee.