Sen. Deschambault introduces bill to help municipalities provide affordable housing for community members

Posted: April 15, 2021 | Senator Deschambault, Taxation

AUGUSTA – On Wednesday, Sen. Susan Deschambault, D-Biddeford, introduced a bill that would help municipalities provide affordable housing for community members through tax increment financing. LD 953, “An Act To Improve Affordable Housing Options and Services To Address Homelessness,” was the subject of a public hearing before the Legislature’s Taxation Committee.

“Access to affordable housing was an important issue even before the pandemic, but even more so now,” said Sen. Deschambault. “Over the past several months, I’ve worked with advocates from Maine Housing, Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, the City of Biddeford, DECD and others to craft legislation to make it easier and financially feasible for municipalities to support community members who are unhoused or can only afford low-income housing.”

In LD 953, tax increment financing would be the mechanism that municipalities can use to pay for affordable housing developments and housing services for people who are homeless. 

Jim Bennett, city manager of Biddeford, testified in support of the bill:

“If enacted, LD 953 would allow new tax revenues to be used directly to support an affordable housing initiative within the same community. Most importantly, this tool is solely controlled by the municipality and does not require any approval by the private investor. Affordable housing advocates (as well as advocates for the homeless) will have the opportunity to see new market rate developments as a means to their goal instead of only a barrier. In Biddeford, it is fully anticipated LD 953 would be used to directly support the Biddeford Housing Authority’s plan to build a new project in our downtown, featuring 2 and 3 bedroom family units; units that private affordable housing developers too often avoid because of financing limitations.”

The bill faces further action in committee.