The recent news that Gov. Mills has signed a bill to expand affordable-housing state tax credits – providing $10 million per year for eight years – is good news for badly needed affordable-housing development. Every day we read about serious housing affordability issues, and every day we read how states and communities are trying to deal with this crisis, with limited success.

There are many, many ways to finance affordable housing, but mostly these programs rely heavily on tax credits, or are only dedicated to rental units. What is missing from Maine’s new legislation is financing support for affordable homeownership.

Too often we read about lower- to middle-income families in rental housing paying well over 50 percent of their income for housing, leaving too few dollars for food, health care, transportation and other essentials. But not often enough do policymakers advance legislation that will help lower-income families buy an affordable home and afford monthly utilities and, yes, property taxes. Not often do lawmakers find a way to support and expand affordable homeownership, where it is possible for hardworking families to care for their home and have the potential to create wealth.

Renting a subsidized (by taxpayer) apartment may be a step ahead for many families, but Maine’s lawmakers should help income-challenged families to build their forever home – a home they can afford, enjoy and own.

Godfrey Wood

executive director, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland


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