The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition said Monday that it will oppose the “Green New Deal” referendum on the Portland ballot in next month’s election.

The proposal, which would impose strict environmental standards on new housing projects that receive government aid, would be detrimental to the city’s affordable housing efforts, the group said.

“This is the first time the Maine Affordable Housing Coalition has ever taken a position on a local referendum question,” said Greg Payne, director of the coalition, in a statement. “But the so-called Portland Green New Deal is so bad for affordable housing, we felt we had to stand up and oppose it.”

The proposed standards would make it “nearly impossible for Maine companies to compete for work and for affordable housing to be built,” the coalition said.

The referendum, listed on the city ballot as “Question C: An Act to Implement a Green New Deal for Portland,” would require that the roofs of new housing units be built either solar-ready or be greenery-covered “living roofs.” It would also require that at least one-quarter of new housing developments be affordable to people making 80 percent of the area’s median income, and mandate that workers on the projects be given more pay and training.

In addition, the opt-out fee for developers would be raised from $100,000 per unit to $150,000 per unit.

Supporters of Question C say it would reduce carbon emissions from buildings and building construction, which account for 40 percent of all emissions, and would better position the city to move away from fossil fuels.

But Payne said the plan is poorly written and would worsen the city’s housing crisis. Coalition members also fear that the measure could derail affordable housing projects already in the pipeline in Portland, Payne said.

The Maine Affordable Housing Coalition represents more than 135 private- and public-sector organizations focused on the housing crisis in Portland and around the state.

Last week, a political action committee formed to oppose three referendum questions on the Portland ballot, including Question C, said the proposals are a “cluster bomb of ideas” that threaten all forms of housing production in the city, including much-needed affordable housing.

The group, known as Building a Better Portland, also opposes Question D: An Act to Protect Tenants and Question E: An Act to Restrict Short-Term Rentals in Portland.


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