Brunswick’s new Housing Committee and the town’s Economic Development Office are planning an Affordable Housing Support Fund to promote housing development projects, according to Brunswick Economic Development Director Sally Costello.

The fund would help builders who specialize in affordable housing cover land acquisition prices, infrastructure repairs and other development costs, Costello explained during Monday’s Housing Committee meeting.

“We could use it for any number of things related to housing,” she said. “Basically, what it allows us to do is put funds directly in the hands of developers who are ready to execute.”

After a sudden influx of market-rate housing projects stoked fears that lower-income workers would continue to be boxed out of Brunswick, the council passed a 180-day housing development moratorium in June. Shortly afterward, it approved the formation of the Housing Committee, which has spent the past few months exploring policies that could bring more affordable housing to Brunswick.

“What we’ve done in the past clearly hasn’t been robust enough,” said committee member and Councilor Abby King. “I think everyone is on the same page that we need to approach this differently.”

Creating an Affordable Housing Support Fund, which would help make notoriously tough-to-finance affordable housing projects feasible, could serve as a first step. Committee members will discuss the plan, developed by Costello’s team, at their November meeting before offering a recommendation to the Town Council, according to committee Chairperson John Hodge.


The council could seed the fund with a portion of Brunswick’s COVID relief funds, Costello said. She added that the town would also be competitive for a $500,000 Community Solutions Grant from MaineHousing.

The Housing and Comprehensive Plan Review Committees have also begun examining other policies that could ease the town’s shortage of affordable housing, including regulating short-term rentals and adjusting zoning ordinances to allow for increased housing density.

“For a vacant piece of land, the number one driver of the number of units you can put on it tends to be the zoning,” said Jeff Levine, a consultant working with the Comprehensive Plan Review Committee, while presenting at Monday’s meeting. “If you want to produce more housing, you might want to look at your zoning requirements, figure out what they’re there for and see if there’s other ways to accomplish that.”

While the Housing Committee plans to develop an action plan in the coming months, Hodge said it’s unlikely to complete this task by the time Brunswick’s housing moratorium expires at the end of November. He said the Committee has not yet discussed whether it will recommend the council extend the moratorium.

Whether or not the moratorium lasts beyond November, the policy has been a success in King’s eyes.

“The moratorium was a good stopgap just to sort of get everyone to pay attention and give us a little breathing room,” King said. “I do really see that we’re making some progress. This energy has been a long time coming.”

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