AUGUSTA –– The House of Representatives voted 80-63 Monday to support an order designed to force Gov. Paul LePage to release $15 million in voter-approved bonds for senior housing.

The governor opposed the bonds before the Legislature sent the initiative to voters last year, and he has continued to criticize it during forums he has held across the state. On Monday, House Speaker Mark Eves, D-North Berwick, joined members of AARP at a news conference to urge lawmakers to honor the will of voters, who approved the bond 69 percent to 31 percent in November.

Eves said LePage wasn’t “doing his job” and that 9,000 seniors currently waiting for access to affordable housing were suffering. The speaker described the waiting list as a crisis, adding that delaying action was a “failure of leadership.”

“We are here calling on the governor not to play games with these bonds,” Eves said prior to the vote in the House.

Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for the governor, said the administration continues to support the Maine State Housing Authority’s efforts to address senior housing needs. The authority has the ability to bond for projects. Bennett said the authority creates 250 to 300 new apartments every year, about half of which are for seniors.

“Additionally, we are exploring other means to assist housing needs for our elderly, including upgrading current facilities, which is much more cost-effective,” Bennett said.

The governor has five years to authorize bonds that have been approved by voters. Eves said the need is urgent and he cited the governor’s previous maneuvering on voter-approved land conservation bonds, which LePage eventually did authorize.

“If the governor isn’t going to do his job, we’re going to do ours,” Eves said.

The order supported in the Democratic-controlled House would compel the State and Local Government Committee to draft legislation, which the full Legislature would then have to approve, that would release the housing bonds. It passed mostly along party lines and will now go to the Republican-controlled Senate. Eves said he was hopeful the Senate will pass the order.

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