Sen. Daughtry introduces bill to increase affordable housing to support Maine’s workforce

Posted: February 06, 2024 | Senator Daughtry

AUGUSTA — On Tuesday, Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, introduced a bill to expand the availability of affordable housing options in Maine. LD 2169, “An Act to Support the Development of Workforce Housing to Promote Economic Development in Maine,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Housing.

Sen. Mattie Daughtry

“To put it simply, this bill would create workforce housing for Maine wage-earners who cannot afford the rising costs of renting or purchasing a home. At this time, many people across Maine are struggling to find or maintain housing — despite having good-paying, stable jobs,” said Sen. Daughtry. “Small and large employers alike, including our hospitals, are having trouble filling open positions, simply because workers can’t find an affordable place to live. The need is clear, and this bill will provide a pathway forward.”

LD 2169 aims to create a public-private partnership to increase the development of workforce housing. As drafted, the bill would establish the Workforce Housing Development Loan Fund to support the development of affordable workforce housing. The Department of Economic and Community Development, which would administer the fund, must solicit applications for loans from the fund through a competitive application process. Loans would be awarded with zero interest to community banks, which would then contract with housing developers to create housing for workers who earn up to a certain percentage of the area median income, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). According to HUD, Maine’s median income ranges from $53,060 to $85,260 for a single-person household, and from $75,800 to $121,800 for a household of four, depending on the area.

In her testimony introducing the bill, Sen. Daughtry said she was also open to changing the bill to create a pilot program.

“LD 2169 is targeted at workers, the missing middle in our efforts to develop more affordable housing,” said Megan Hannan, Executive Director of the Maine Community Action Partnership. “These are the folks who are working full time, even if that means two or more jobs; they earn too much to qualify for many of our State and Federal support programs, but too little to make ends meet easily.”

“This bill would provide housing for existing workers and also increase the supply of available housing to be able to attract new workers we need for our future,” said Andy Cashman, on behalf of the Maine Association of Realtors. “We support LD 2169 because it focuses on the root of our housing problem: a lack of supply. This bill is a potential solution to address affordable housing needs in our state.”

The bill faces further action in committee.