I share the outrage and shock of everyone about the dramatic and sudden rent increases at Redbank Village. Six months after their apartment complex was bought by the California-based company JRK Property Holdings, residents are left with the choice of paying between $200 and $600 more a month in rent, or move.

The increases are not only tone deaf, but unnecessarily exacerbating and untenable in light of the current situation surrounding the availability of affordable housing.,The consequences will be widespread.

First, many tenants are not going to be able to afford the increase and may be forced to move, but to where? At a minimum, their household budgets just got blown up. There will be an immediate human crisis that the City of South Portland and the social service agencies will have to deal with. This comes on top of the current crisis of trying to find housing for asylum seekers and people who are experiencing homelessness.

Second, this will put additional demand on the market for affordable and lower income housing where even current housing voucher holders cannot find housing. There isn’t enough naturally occurring affordable housing, nor assisted and subsidized housing, nor housing for people with moderate and middle incomes. This will simply make it worse.

Simply put, the sale of an apartment building or complex should not result in immediate displacement from safe and stable housing for anyone in Maine, but we are seeing it all over the state. Redbank is just the most recent and largest example we’ve seen.

So many people in the housing industry from every corner of the state have been working so hard the last few years to improve the quality and quantity of Maine’s housing stock. These range from building more affordable housing projects like South Portland’s Thornton Heights to providing small workforce rental units in rural areas, to creating island housing that working people can afford, to making it easier for renters to buy their first home. Drastically increasing the rent for 500 modest apartments undercuts all these efforts in one fell swoop. For all of the local landlords who try to be good corporate citizens, this only adds frustration.


The state has stepped up with a new state affordable housing tax credit and by investing federal emergency COVID relief funds to housing development; but right now, Greater Portland faces a major, immediate crisis. To provide appropriate COVID health protections, Portland’s homeless shelters had to spread people out. Local hotel owners responded. Now, they need the rooms back for vacationers. Meanwhile, we are receiving more and more asylum seekers every day with no place for them to sleep at night – and now this.

Large, nationwide housing companies can find balance sheet justifications all day long for substantial rent increases like this, but they aren’t the local landlords, real estate agents and city officials who work face to face with Maine people every day trying to help them solve their housing problems.

To JRK, I say, “Shame on you.”

— Special to the Press Herald

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