The audience at the June 14 event filled the newly renovated lobby at Larrabee Woods. Chance Viles / American Journal

WESTBROOK — Westbrook Housing Authority officials gathered at the newly renovated Larrabee Woods facility last week to celebrate the state’s first public housing conversion to private, affordable housing.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, speaks on the importance of affordable housing at Larrabee Woods June 14. Chance Viles / American Journal

Just under $7 million in public and private funding was used to improve Larrabee Woods and Riverview Terrace and convert them to Section 8 housing through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program. Westbrook Development Corporation and Westbrook Housing Authority initiated the project.

“These investments are critical for affordable housing, which is really needed here, Portland and even Bangor, where people cannot afford to live where they may work,” U.S Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said at the June 14 ceremony.

A newly renovated Larrabee Woods apartment. Chance Viles / American Journal

Congress created the RAD Program in 2011 to generate funding for affordable housing through the private sector. While Westbrook Housing Authority once ran the federally funded Larrabee Woods and Riverview Terrace, the housing authority and the private Westbrook Development Corporation now are the official owners and will receive federal Section 8 program funding. The new ownership allows for more funding opportunities.

Over $4 million in funding comes from loans from the Gorham Savings Bank, as well as a number of more traditional affordable housing funds and grants.

Renovations include making each room and floor handicapped accessible and ADA compliant and updating furnishings, furnaces, refrigerators, windows and more.


Both buildings have income requirements and are for those 55 and older.

“I wanted for my family and friends to come and see how nice my living is,” resident Luke Stone said. “I am very proud of this building.”

Housing Authority Executive Director Chris LaRoche thanks the contractors who worked on the project. Chance Viles / American Journal

Larrabee Heights has about 27 apartments, while Riverview Terrace has about 59 bedrooms. Each building has renovated common space as well.

“I enjoyed the process. There were inconveniences, but the improvements are great. I am so grateful,” resident Susan MacMullen said.

The original Larrabee Woods was built in 1982, and was “in need of some work,” LaRoche said.

“When I started as a police officer here in the 80’s, this building was the offices for housing,” Mayor Mike Sanphy said. “Now, it’s just amazing. Everything a resident needs is right in this building.”

Chance Viles can be reached at 780-9092 or Follow Chance on Twitter: @chanceviles.

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