As soon as next week, the Portland City Council will take a consequential vote on whether to move forward with its first housing cooperatives, on two pieces of land the city is selling for housing development. Selecting both of these cooperatives is an important step toward addressing housing insecurity and the shortage of suitable housing supply by diversifying the affordable housing options in Maine’s largest city.

Both cooperative proposals, Lambert Street and Douglass Street (Douglass Commons), have strong support from the City Council’s Housing Committee. The limited-equity housing cooperative model ensures permanent affordability and the stability of homeownership. This is particularly important in cities like Portland, where incomes do not grow proportionally with housing market prices and renewed investment favors more affluent demographics.

Housing cooperatives create the possibility for those born and raised in Portland to be able to remain in Portland, for those working in Portland to afford to own here, for those arriving in Maine seeking safe homes to find homes they can afford here and for our elderly to retire in the communities they have come to depend on.

The City Council has before them a crucial opportunity to support the stability of resident ownership and to pursue their goals of diversifying affordable-housing options for current residents of all ages, income levels and demographics by voting in favor of the Lambert Street Cooperative and Douglass Commons, the Douglass Street cooperative housing proposal. I strongly encourage them to take this important step.

Julian Rowand
cooperative development specialist, Cooperative Development Institute

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