Cumberland needs to take immediate action to develop 150 units of affordable housing in town and should require other developers of more than 10 units to make at least 10% of their new housing affordable, a task force told the Town Council last week.

In addition, the town needs a stronger housing authority to help it deal with the affordable housing crisis in the state, Jamie Broder, chairperson of the Cumberland Housing Task Force, said at a Feb. 13 council workshop.

“The housing authority should serve as the center of new creative ideas,” Broder said during his update to the council. “It’s an attempt to make us proactive rather than reactive.”

The Cumberland Housing Authority, created in 1991, manages 30 housing units for senior residents in town, but also has the ability to raise money, issue bonds, and it can help with the regional affordable housing efforts, the task force says.

For housing to be considered affordable in Cumberland, according to state guidelines, it must be attainable to a household earning no more than $64,543, or 80% of the town’s median income of $80,679, according to the 2021 U.S. Census. Rent that represents no more than 30% of a household’s income is deemed affordable by Maine Housing. For a household bringing in $64,543 a year, affordable monthly rent would be $1,613.

The task force also recommended using a TIF – tax increment financing – to encourage affordable housing projects. The town currently uses TIFs as incentives for commercial developments.


The task force was created in June of 2022 to “dig deep on the problem of affordable housing,” Town Council Chairperson Allison Foster said. Ten residents spent seven months studying the issue before releasing their recommendations last week.

“This is a tough issue,” Broder said. “It’s complicated, it’s important, and it deserves the kind of time that we were given to do this work.”

Council Co-chairperson Mark Segrist, the council’s liaison to the task force, said the diversity of the members has contributed to its success.

“There were folks on both sides of whatever spectrum you want to call it in terms of affordable housing that I think made what came out of this committee a much better work product,” he said.

The task force will present a more in-depth report to the council at a future workshop.

“It’s not just a town matter, it’s not just a county matter, it’s an everybody matter,” Broder said.

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