The South Portland Housing Authority is proposing a three-story affordable senior apartment building off of the intersection of Little Dolphin Drive and Access Road. The property would be in the Oak Hill Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Brooks More

SCARBOROUGH — Residents weighed in on a 20-year tax break agreement that is proposed for a $14 million senior housing facility, Jocelyn Place, on Sept. 2 during a Scarborough Town Council public hearing.

In June, the South Portland Housing Authority, first brought the project, which includes 60, one-bedroom units for seniors 55 and up, to the Scarborough Planning Board. The building would be three floors and located in the Oak Hill Neighborhood.

The proposed credit enhancement agreement would provide a 75 percent reimbursement for 20 years. The original agreement proposed a 28-year agreement but was amended.

Brooks More, director of development for South Portland Housing Development Corporation, said in June that the property is in part of the downtown tax increment financing district.

“This will allow us to apply to pay for the construction,” he said.

Since then, the project and credit enhancement agreement proposal have gone in front of the Scarborough Town Council, which is expected to take a final vote on Sept. 16.

The developers need to get the application of the project to Maine Housing sometime in September, shortly after the Council’s vote, said Gary Vogel, the attorney who represents the South Portland Housing Authority.

“Without the tax credits, these projects can’t really be built,” he said. “South Portland Housing Authority is really pleased to be able to extend their reach into Scarborough. It is part of their charter to serve the communities of South Portland and Scarborough. Even though we’re not designated by Scarborough as the housing authority, it’s still part of their mission. So this would be the first project that South Portland Housing Authority is doing in Scarborough, and I think they’d hope it would be the first of many because obviously, there’s a strong need for affordable housing.”

Marj DeSanctis, chair of the Scarborough Housing Alliance, said that in 2018 the group started a tracking mechanism for affordable housing, and she is determined to update that data and keep it current in order to see where it is and what the circumstances are.

“I just want to reiterate our support for this project because we do need more affordable housing,” she said.

The project will serve seniors earning below 60 percent of the area median income, said Bryan Shumway, a volunteer with the Scarborough Housing Alliance, who lives on Memory Lane and voiced his support in an email to the Town Council. In a two-person household, this amounts to about $48,000 a year, and a in a one-person household, this equates to $42,000 a year.

“These households are often on fixed incomes and struggle to live in safe housing that accommodates mobility needs while remaining affordable,” he said. “This project is an important step to helping Scarborough achieve its affordability goals and its commitment under the comprehensive plan.”

Shumway said the project would also provide 50 to 60 construction jobs in the town of Scarborough.

Michael Murphy of Highland Avenue told the Town Council he’s against the credit enhancement agreement, and he thinks Scarborough needs to work directly with its senior citizens providing them with aid.

“I think the town should work more favorably, and if they want to give a Tax Increment Finance, they should give it to everyone over 65,” he said. “They’re literally pushing the senior citizens out of this town. There’s no way we can continue to afford the tax rate as is.”

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