A few dozen Topsham Crossing residents gather at Topsham Public Library Wednesday night to learn more about the affordable housing Topsham Housing Authority plans to build near their subdivision. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

TOPSHAM — Topsham Housing Authority is proposing a $7.7 million, 38-unit affordable housing development near the Topsham Crossing subdivision off Tedford Road, worrying some neighbors.

Topsham Housing Authority Executive Director John Hodge said the planned workforce housing is needed in the Midcoast.

“The area is in great shortage of decent rental housing,” he said. “It’s a struggle for many working families to find a rent that they can afford.”

The housing shortage is not unique to Topsham and Brunswick. Gov. Janet Mills on Wednesday signed a bill into law that aims to double the current rate of new affordable housing production by creating a tax credit program administered by the Maine State Housing Authority, according to a news release.

According to the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition, only about 52 affordable housing units exist for every 100 Maine families earning 30% of the median income or less.

The Topsham Housing Authority plans to build townhouse style rental properties with two- and three-bedroom units off Hackmatack Road. The homes would be located on 12 acres initially slated to be the final phase of the Topsham Crossing subdivision. The owner decided to sell the land rather than complete the final phase with 38 houses.

The earliest construction would start is in the spring of 2021.

Hodge said the Topsham Housing Authority is trying to create affordable housing to serve working families earning up to 60% of the area median income. For a family of four, that’s about $51,500 per year.

It would be similar to Pleasant Woods, the 8-unit project the housing authority built at 37 Pleasant St. in 2017, Hodge said.

Residents agreed there needs to be affordable housing but questioned if locating next to the 68-home Topsham Crossing subdivision is the best place.

Hodge said the Topsham Housing Authority looked at sites closer to stores and services, such as the Topsham Fair Mall and downtown. None were viable.

Patti Rethi said the only way to get to Topsham Crossing and the new proposed housing is on Tedford Road, which is “already beyond capacity and a wreck to drive on.”

Rethi said after the meeting that some of her neighbors are concerned about having the development in their backyards, but noted: “The reality, personally, is we need housing that is affordable. I came to Topsham Crossing 16 years ago because it was affordable.”

John Hodge, executive director of Topsham Housing Authority, speaks to Topsham Crossing residents about 38 affordable housing the authority plans to build near their subdivision. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

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