Maine State Housing Authority Best Resource for Focus on Critical Senior Housing Needs
February 26, 2015
For Immediate Release: Thursday, February 26, 2015
Contact: Adrienne Bennett, Press Secretary, 207-287-2531
Augusta - Governor Paul R. LePage today once again addressed the issue of affordable senior housing, emphasizing it is best addressed by refocusing existing resources within the State rather than taking out more loans at the expense of all Maine taxpayers.
On Thursday, a news conference held by the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition supported a proposed $65 million general obligation bond for senior housing. While an admirable goal, the Governor says there is a more appropriate and fiscally responsible approach currently available for senior housing.
“By using general obligation bonds for senior housing we are placing the State in deeper debt and putting additional burden on the backs of Maine taxpayers,” said Governor LePage. “The Maine State Housing Authority has the ability to issue bonds to finance affordable senior housing under its current authority. I support the balanced approach they are taking already with the resources they have."
Governor LePage stressed his strong and continued support for Maine's senior citizens, but expressed concerns about some of the details in the proposed $65 million bond. Those concerns include trying to build 1,000 new units and putting developments in every county, something that may not be financially viable. He also raised a concern that the proposal may not serve the state's neediest senior citizens. "MaineHousing already is creating 250 - 300 new apartments each and every year. About half of them are for seniors and the rest are for other needy Mainers. They are trying to balance competing needs," said Governor LePage.
The Governor also commented on a recent study that determined there is a need for 9,000 affordable senior apartments. "If you look at the study you find that they define elderly as just 55 years of age. That inflates the number of units need – it would be a bit smaller if they used a more realistic age such as 65."
The Governor noted that in addition to allocating federal tax credits, MaineHousing is authorized to sell private activity bonds and other bonds and has subsidy resources available. "I’ve urged MaineHousing to continue to use these resources to their fullest to meet the needs of our vulnerable elderly population."