The city of Portland has joined a regional effort to increase the affordable housing stock across greater Portland. Michael Kelley / The Forecaster

PORTLAND — With more seniors finding it difficult to age in place and young families struggling to afford their first home, the City Council is working with other municipalities to increase affordable housing by 10% by 2025.

In June, Greater Portland of Government’s Metro Regional Coalition — representing Cape Elizabeth, Falmouth, Gorham, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland and Westbrook — endorsed resolutions in its communities expanding the amount of affordable and lower- and middle-income households over the next six years.

Portland councilors approved its resolution unanimously Monday, which stated, in part, “our region’s economic and community well-being depends on expanding housing choices, which in turn will support all residents as well as our current and future economy.”

“All seven of these communities recognized regionally and nationally we are facing a housing shortage,” Councilor Belinda Ray said. “We need more housing supply and have been collaborating to try to find ways to create more housing in the region. That is what this resolution is, a first step. There are more steps to follow.”

According to the city, 2,300 units of residential housing were approved by the Planning Board from 2014 to August 2019, equating in 383 units per year. The 2017 Comprehensive Plan set a goal of creating 256 units per year by 2027.

Residents who spoke at the meeting said more needs to be done.

“It is not enough,” Alyssa Floyd of Marginal Way said. “Because of increasing rent, people, especially those with children, have to make hard choices that people who don’t worry about housing don’t have to make,” Floyd said.

In the face of rising rents, Floyd  urged city leaders to address the issue “with more ambition and valiancy.”

Aaron Berger said he sees a lot of people struggling to afford to in Portland and would like to see an annual commitment of at least 500 affordable housing units.

“What I see is people with very low incomes worry about their housing and I wish they were given more attention with his resolution,” he said

While the resolution and the Metro Regional Coalition is a step in the right direction, Adam Rice of Congress Street said “not enough is being done” to help those who are struggling with housing and homelessness, two populations, he said are feeling “invisible and ignored.”

George Rheault, a resident of West Bayside, said the city for decades “has been terrified to develop the city properly to take advantage of growth opportunities or take advantage of the fact we have a giant housing crisis.”

“Many, many people can no longer afford to live in our community and you’re sitting on your hands not doing anything about that and signing up for these little token gestures that basically mean nothing,” he said.

Cristina Malcomson, of Gleckler Road, said she felt “more attention needs to be paid to those affected by the decision and less attention to the developers and investors.”

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