At-Large City Councilor Mike Foley, left, and council President Gary Rairdon listen to the GPCOG presentation on affordable housing Monday. Chance Viles/American Journal

WESTBROOK— City officials voted unanimously Monday to adopt an affordable housing resolution that looks to increase low- and middle-income households by 10% by 2025.

GPCOG’s Chris Hall makes a presentation to the City Council Monday. Chance Viles/American Journal

Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) came up with the resolution after identifying weaknesses in housing in the region, specifically at the middle-class and lower-income levels.

“GPCOG has been very active on housing issues,” City Administrator Jerre Bryant said. “One issue is the housing shortage, and a big factor of that is that affordable housing is not available in the Greater Portland Region.”

According to a presentation given by Chris Hall, GPCOG’s General Counsel and Director of Regional Initiatives, the number of jobs have increased in the region, but the level of pay for many professionals such as teachers has not caught up to the rising cost of housing. With a surplus of work and a lack of housing and cash, people cannot find living situations in the Portland area.

“Teachers, police, fire, these are professionals whose wages do not match the cost of a house,” Hall said. “We refer to them as the missing middle.”

According to Hall, Westbrook’s work with the Housing Authority and new developments put the city ahead of its neighbors in terms of housing availability, so the adoption of the resolution is more about sending a message to nearby communities rather than changing Westbrook’s practices.

“We are already doing a lot of this,” At-Large Councilor Mike Foley said. “I do know it is getting harder to afford homes, though. As a property owner, we had some openings over this year and people showed up ready with cash right away because the need for housing is so great.”

The resolution calls for a 10% increase in affordable housing by 2025 regionally. The resolution asks communities to put more power into approving housing projects aimed at the middle and lower economic classes,  which Westbrook is on track in doing.

The resolution has been adopted by South Portland, Portland and Cape Elizabeth. According to Hall, Scarborough and Falmouth are working on adopting the resolution as well.

“Our hope is that working together as a region we can get closer to the goal,” Hall said in an interview. “I was reading about some federal incentives out there to move in the same direction. It’s not a problem only in Maine, it’s a problem across the country.”

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